The Perry Institute for Marine Science is protecting our oceans, through research and education that informs the public and encourages action. We offer internship opportunities to highly motivated students at our at our advanced research and diving facility on Lee Stocking Island in the Bahamas.
Internship Workplan Agreement
Lee Stocking Island - Bahamas Field Station
Our research center on Lee Stocking Island is one of the largest and most productive science field stations in the entire Caribbean region. Depending on the focus of your internship, you can gain firsthand experience with standard field procedures, experimental design, sampling protocol, environmental monitoring techniques, diving and boating. Perhaps most valuable, you'll personally interact with some of the world's brightest professional marine scientists.
Current internships available:
Read how former interns benefited from their experience with Perry Institute for Marine Science.
Caitlin O’Brien is a recent graduate of Oberlin College in Ohio, where she studied biology and paleontology. Since the age of 5, she has wanted to be a marine biologist. More recently, she has developed an interest in marine ecology and evolution, especially regarding cephalopods (octopuses, squid, nautilus and cuttlefish). She finds the evolution of mammal-like intelligence in a “lowly” invertebrate like an octopus to be both miraculous and fascinating and hopes to spend her life working with these amazing creatures. When not working at various marine institutions, Caitlin can be found reading, playing rugby or watching “Star Trek”. Her internship at PIMS has solidified her interest in marine ecology, introduced her to numerous top-notch marine scientists and given her a better idea of what she would like to pursue in graduate school.
When I accepted this internship I knew that I was turning the knob to a brighter future. I have always wanted to become a marine biologist so when the opportunity arose for me to intern at PIMS, I took it. One of my favorite pastimes is learning new things, and that is exactly what I have done at PIMS. I never imagined that I would be driving and fueling boats, checking engine oil levels, tagging lionfish, collecting gobies, studying parasites, and even learn how to cook! I love every aspect of this internship especially the people, it amazing how much I have learned in such a short period of time. Prior to this internship I worked at the Atlantis Resort and Casino, Paradise Island, Nassau Bahamas in the Marine Aquarium Operations Department as an aquarist for a year and a half; I also worked at Stuart Cove’s Dive Bahamas as a Dive master. My hobbies include scuba diving, underwater photography, marine conservation and marine biology, baking and cooking. The Perry Institute for Marine Science is a great institution and I would love to come back anytime.
My name is Jean, I am originally from Maine, but have been living in Colorado for the past three years attending Colorado College where I am majoring in biology. I started diving in 2008 while participating in a marine conservation study abroad program in Bonaire, Netherland Antilles, and am now a certified divemaster. I have been on Lee Stocking Island since June and have been diving almost everyday, working with some great researchers, and enjoying the sunshine! Apart from diving and the ocean, my other interests include figure skating, hockey, canoeing, snowboarding, camping, cooking, and traveling.
When I first applied for a position at the Perry Institute on Lee Stocking Island, I was not quite sure what to expect. Having just finished my sophomore year at Smith College, I lack much of the field experience that many internships look for in their applicants. Thrilled to be accepted to participate in what was to be an incredible summer, I packed my bags, eager for adventure. What I found on LSI was to be one of the most grueling summers of my life - but it also turned out to be the best!
Within the first few weeks after my arrival, my duties were made clear to me: cleaning, water taxi runs, cleaning, painting, cleaning, beach cleanup, NOAA CREWS station maintenance, cleaning, dive and lab support, and more cleaning! With very limited staff, PIMS has had to rely on the few people that are on the island to keep everything running. This summer became more than just my ability to follow orders and get my work done; it included what I was willing to learn and how quickly I was willing to learn it.
Throughout the summer, I had many successes and failures; I had good days and bad days; I had easy days and hard days. So much depended on what I put into my work. I learned so much from LSI and the people that I met and worked with there. Their willingness to teach and let me learn has given me more than I could ever imagine: an LSI summer not just of science and diving, but one of growing and of living.
"Hungry, Hungry Diadema"
Ashley Ford, a sophomore at Auburn University, came to Lee Stocking Island in January for an 11-week research project as PIMS' Science Intern. Ashley developed an independent project focusing on Diadema antillarum, a long spined sea urchin, and its effect on algal communities. "I became interested in the relationship between Diadema and algae after listening to stories of recreational divers who, years ago, would move 5 or 6 of these urchins out of the way to capture lobsters," said Ashley.
The summer of 1983 was the beginning of a Caribbean-wide mass mortality of Diadema antillarum. Scientists soon discovered how valuable these urchins were to coral reefs when their die off caused more than ninety percent of the urchin population to vanish. Since the die off, there has been a shift from coral dominated reefs, to reefs mostly dominated by algae.
After discovering that very little information exists on these urchins, Ashley's hypothesis became clear; an increase in Diadema populations would result in a decrease in algal cover. Using plastic corrals to contain the Diadema on patch reefs dominated by algae, she selected 3 sites, taking weekly photos of the Diadema's impact on the algal growth. Her photos confirmed her hypothesis, showing a decline in the algal populations after just three weeks.
So what's the benefit of hungry Diadema on a coral reef? It's possible that, as Diadema populations increase and algal communities decrease, the coral head is cleaned making it an ideal location for coral recruits to settle and begin building a healthy coral reef.
I spent 7 weeks as the island science intern during January and February 2005. My reasons for interning at Lee Stocking Island's (LSI) Perry Institute for Marine Science (PIMS) were to further my field technician skills in the water as well as to gain exposure to variety of research areas. After managing a sea turtle conservation project in the Eastern Caribbean and volunteering as an intern for cetacean research in New England, my internship at LSI proved to be very valuable in the continuation of my education through hands-on experience. I gained many transferable practical skills, such as boat handling and advanced SCUBA training, which I will carry with me in my future graduate studies. I was also able to participate in educational outreach, a long-standing passion of mine, through helping to lead island tours and conducting laboratory exercises with visiting high school students.
During my time at LSI, I helped on a variety scientific projects including an icthyoplankton channel net survey, a recruitment study of the Caribbean spiny lobster, and a population ecology study of the bi-color damsel fish. Though my involvement with each of these projects was brief, I found the experience very interesting and learned a great deal about experimental design and logistics in the field. This wealth of background information will serve as a good springboard to delve further into the sustainable management and conservation of marine ecosystems.
In addition to field experience, I received a wonderful opportunity to meet and live among scientists from all over the world. This proved to be one of the most valuable outcomes from my internship with PIMS, as I was able to sit in on several workshops and presentations over diverse topics. My exposure to individuals working at universities, governmental agencies, and independent consultant agencies helped me to explore where my niche might lie within the professional world and what paths I might take to get there.
I would recommend an experience like this to anyone who is considering a career in the marine science field. A broad overview of the marine science field and the opportunity to work along side world-class scientists offer a great environment for personal development and exploration of future careers. Not to mention the island staff and facilities are fabulous!
To begin, I will say that I thoroughly enjoyed my internship with the Perry Institute! It was exactly the kind of experience I needed to help me decide where I am headed next in the marine science world. The facilities, the natural environment, and the staff far exceeded my expectations, but the real advantage was in the opportunity to assist a variety of scientists on a variety of projects and really get a feel for what it is like to work in the field. On Lee Stocking and in the beautiful waters surrounding the island I gained knowledge and skills that could never be taught in a traditional classroom.
I began my internship with my primary interest being in fisheries ecology and conservation, so I was very excited to get the chance to help out Dr. Craig Dahlgren with both his research in the Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park looking at the "spillover effect" of marine reserves as well as with his research examining the habitat preferences of the commercially-valuable Spiny lobster. Though I only participated in a small part of these much bigger projects, I got a good introduction to how such large scale studies are designed and carried out in the field.
In addition to my exposure to fisheries research, I was also enlightened to the world of Corals by talking with and helping several of the scientists working on the reefs around Lee Stocking Island. I assisted with two projects in particular that differed in priority and scale, but that both taught me a lot about the various methods and techniques used in coral reef research. I now have a much greater appreciation for these habitat-creating organisms and the dire need to protect them.
Overall, my internship with the Perry Institute was time well spent. I would recommend this program to anyone who is interested in a well-rounded, eye-opening, perspective into the fields of marine science. I wish I could've stayed longer!