Sea Turtles 911

Sea Turtles are Endangered: Help!
   Internship: Sea Turtle Biology, Conservation Education, Rehabilitation, and Husbandry

Interns giving IV fluid therapy to a sea turtle Interns tubefeeding sea turtle Sea turtle hospital Volunteer and Staff at our sea turtle facility Staff and Volunteers with baby sea turtles Staff and Volunteer inspecting sea turtles for injuries Interns in fishing village with rehabilitated sea turtle Staff and interns on fishing boat giving tour of fishing village Ecotourism: Interns with Hotel Staff Interns presenting at Hainan University on sea turtle conservation Interns lecturing at Hainan University on sea turtle conservation Interns with Professors at Hainan University Intern teaching fishermen children Intern scrubbing turtle with children Staff and interns give tour of sea turtle hospital Staff and Volunteers with sea turtle on Sanya Beach Intern inspecting plastron of sea turtle Staff lecturing to interns on sea turtle biology Interns giving presentation to students Interns tubefeeding sea turtle Interns scrubbing barnacles off sea turtle Interns injecting sea turtle Volunteer and Veterinarian rescue sea turtle Staff with Volunteers in their hotel Staff and Volunteers protect sea turtle hatchlings Baby sea turtle hatchlings Volunteers releasing rehabilitated sea turtle Intern with rescued sea turtle Interns with hatchling sea turtles Interns cheering with sea turtle


The Sea Turtles 911 Internship Program provides university students hands-on experience working on the 'frontlines' of endangered species conservation and research. Interns will gain experience in all sectors of the Sea Turtles 911 organization, but will maintain several focused project areas to develop through their own ingenuity. This is designed to challenge interns to find their niche to make a unique contribution to marine conservation.

Education interns will tackle the challenges of creating effective biological and conservation education in the field that not only imparts information, but also motivates their audience to action. They will establish and maintain communication with teachers and other international school professionals in China and internationally; create activities, lesson plans, and presentations suitable for specific grade levels; and work alongside experienced Sea Turtles 911 Education Specialists, providing conservation education 'in the field' as well as in the classroom.

Research interns will contribute to the continuation of sea turtle conservation by creating and conducting a research project. They will present a proposal to the organization's Director, provide researched evidence that their project has scientific merit, confirm they can find or have the resources necessary to perform the project to completion while on the island, and work on publishing their results in a scientific journal.

The Internship Program is similar in basics to the Sea Turtles 911 Volunteer Program, but is set apart by thorough instruction on sea turtle biology and conservation and is designed so that students may obtain college credit from their university. We require a minimum term of ten (10) weeks with acceptance open throughout the year. If you are looking for an unique experience abroad, living on a tropical island immersed in the Chinese culture, working with marine animals, educating the public about endangered species conservation, and giving back to the community, then our Internship Program is for you.

Focus Areas

Sea Turtles 911 interns may work in the following areas. While all interns will be given the opportunity to contribute in each sector, some may choose to focus on one portion more than others.
  1. Rescue / Rehabilitation

    We have juvenile to adult sea turtles under our care, both at our floating sea turtle hospital and at our local partner university and hotel resorts. Interns will be trained by knowledgeable staff in sea turtle rescue, rehabilitation, and husbandry. Interns will assist our staff in administering medical treatments to our injured sea turtle patients, including IV fluid therapy, antibiotic injections, tube feeding, vitamin and physical therapy. Furthermore, interns will aid in the daily husbandry of sea turtles, including feeding, cleaning, hospital upkeep, and overall care for the turtles. They will have the opportunity to work with three species of sea turtles: Hawksbill, Green, and Olive Ridley, with the possibility of working with each species in different life stages. It is important for all interns to be knowledgeable and have a first hand account of the human imposed threats that sea turtles face, and what better way than aiding sea turtles in their rescue and recovery!

    Requirements: Interest in wildlife rehabilitation; ability to swim; comfortable on the water; reliable and adroit worker

    Preferences: Past experience in wildlife rehabilitation; studying animal science; pre-vet; marine biology; conservation; environmental science or related fields

  2. Research / Aquaculture

    To further sea turtle conservation, conducting research in all aspects of the biology of sea turtles is important to the scientific community, management agencies, and conservation organizations throughout the world. Interns will assist our staff in marine turtle tagging and satellite telemetry tracking projects. Interns will be trained in research techniques, including blood sampling and tissue biopsy for DNA analysis and genetics research. Interns are encouraged to design new research projects; they also have the opportunity to work on current research projects with graduate students and professors at the local university.

    Our sea turtle hospital is literally floating on the ocean water, in a Chinese floating fishermen village, where the main source of income is the aquaculture of fish, crustaceans and shellfish. Our sea turtle hospital is set up similar to that of aquaculture fish farms that surround us, with sea water free flowing through netted enclosures. This setup is very different than aquariums or other sea turtle rehab centers that house their turtles in indoor tanks with a complex filtration system to mimic the marine environment. We rely on the natural tidal cycle to circulate fresh sea water for our sea turtles; thus, there are many research opportunities that interns can investigate into about sea turtle growth and maintenance in this unique oceanic setup.

    Since our hospital is set up similar to fish farms, many aquaculture techniques are used to provide the most suitable habitat for the turtles under our care. For example, we raise several species of fish that aid in the cleaning of our sea turtles in order to replicate the natural environment as close as possible. Many species of sea turtles have a symbiotic relationship with fish; in the wild, fish clean the algae and other epibiota that grow on the turtles. Interns would utilize their knowledge of aquaculture to raise fish, on a small scale, and maintain the sea turtles' habitat. Additionally, interns could utilize their skills and knowledge to introduce new or “Western” aquaculture techniques to help fishing families find an alternative source of income, rather than sea turtle farming. This will better our relationship with the local community and make it easier to spread our message of sea turtle conservation.

    Research interns will design their own research project in any area of interest to them and in benefit to the organization and the betterment of sea turtle conservation. Research can be worked on and completed at any of the facilities available to Sea Turtles 911, including the sea turtle hospital, a local sea turtle farm, and local university. By Week 3, a research proposal will be submitted to the Director for approval.

    Requirements: An intern must be self-motivating, willing to research and consult with experts in the field, and then apply the knowledge and techniques learned toward projects that benefit sea turtles, the community, or marine conservation in general.

    Preferences: Student of or experience in research, marine biology, aquaculture, fisheries science, molecular biology, genetics, captive breeding, marine toxicology or related field; proficient knowledge of marine aquaculture techniques

  3. Ecotourism

    We have established partnerships with some renowned hotel resorts, such as The Ritz-Carlton. They house our rescued turtles while providing us with a podium for our message of sea turtle conservation to the public. An intern working in this area would help develop education programs and events at each resort location, while improving our public relations. Depending on the resort, this could include making sea turtle conservation presentations, planning sea turtle release events, marketing ecotourism packages, and coordinating sea turtle kids camps. Interns will also work with tour agencies to create ecotourism itineraries for visitors to our floating sea turtle hospital, as well as for Chinese tourists traveling abroad. We encourage interns to advance our tourism partnerships with new ideas of ecotourism.

    Requirements: An intern must be an adept public speaker and/or writer; have experience in teaching; and have an interest in ecotourism

    Preferences: Past experience in project/program development; studying environmental science, conservation, tourism, journalism, public relations, or hotel management

  4. Education / Public Awareness

    This is a broad topic and covers many facets of interest. Our ultimate goal is to change the perception of sea turtles from an animal to be made into a product to a valuable living creature worthy of conserving! Thus, we are working to gain public attention through education to show people how important sea turtles are to their lives. We do this through many methods, from bombarding tourist traps with sea turtle brochures to standing on a crowded street in a sea turtle costume. By using sea turtles as a flagship species we hope to spread marine conservation throughout China. Marketing the image of a sea turtle can be useful to advancing conservation awareness. This could be achieved by getting a corporation to adopt a sea turtle as their logo, or having a Chinese celebrity promote sea turtle conservation in China. Interns will gain experience working with local schools, hotels, and the news media, to promote our environmental conservation message to the general public. Since communication is essential to public education, interns will have the opportunity to learn Chinese by working with local English teachers while developing their own method for public education. This could be anything from speaking at local universities to garner chinese student body support, teaching English with a focus on marine conservation to fishermen families, writing a children’s book about sea turtles, fabricating children’s sea turtle games, online social media marketing, to creating promotional brochures or videos.

    Education interns will participate in any and all scheduled educational programming, including school field trips, ecotourism programs, English education, resort educational programs, and university meetings.

    Interns will contribute to all aspects of the Sea Turtles 911 education programs, including development, presentation, awareness, and promotion. In particular, each intern will create a focus project in each of the areas of development, awareness, and promotion that they will work on during the duration of their internship. The development project can include the creation of new or the improvement of current educational program activities and materials in use by Sea Turtles 911. The awareness project will involve the exposure of sea turtle conservation issues in China locally, domestically, or internationally. The promotion project will improve the visibility of our education programs either nationally or internationally, and cultivate interest in school participation in China. All project ideas will be designed by the intern, and discussed with their supervisor at the beginning of Week 3 for final determination by the end of the same week.

    Requirements: Imagination and enthusiasm to save sea turtles

    Preferences: Studying a field in education and/or teaching, photography, videography, artist, graphic designer, writer, or strong public speaker


Interns will work under the supervision of our knowledgeable staff and will be guided in sea turtle husbandry and rehabilitation. Once the intern has gained adequate instruction they will be asked to perform many tasks independently. They will have the opportunity to work with three species of sea turtles: hawksbill, green, and olive ridley, with the possibility of working with each species in different life stages. Interns will be instructed in many areas of sea turtle biology and conservation, with a focus on a different topic each week.

Weekly Topics

  1. Hospital Training, Sea Turtle Injuries and Illness
  2. General Biology of Sea Turtles
  3. Conservation of Sea Turtles
  4. Sea Turtles in Chinese Culture and Chinese Fisheries Aquaculture
  5. Sea Turtle Husbandry and our Head Start Program
  6. Synchronized Reproductive Behavior of Sea Turtles
  7. Sea Turtle Anatomy and Physiology
  8. Sea Turtle Mortality and Necropsy
  9. Genetic Analysis of Sea Turtles
  10. Life History of Sea Turtles

Required Duties

Interns will work a minimum of 40 hours per week; hours will frequently be long and irregular. Brief work reports will be emailed to the intern's supervisor each evening to maintain contact and status of progress. Some weeks may require more than the 40-hour minimum, depending on the schedule of educational programs.

During Week 1, interns will be trained and exhibit competency in general sea turtle rehabilitation, able to perform basic medical care on their own, including but not limited to: physical examination, treatment planning, dosage calculation, subcutaneous fluid therapy, intramuscular injections, gavage (tube / force feeding), wound care, and a familiarity with the most common drugs utilized in sea turtle medicine.

Though interns will have projects they will be focusing on during their term, much of their day-to-day work will originate on an as-needed and opportunity basis. 'Island Time' dictates plans will frequently change and schedules will become irregular. Interns must be flexible and relaxed to the ever-changing requirements of the organization, its program participants, and its partners in conservation.


Sea Turtles 911 provides interns with the unique opportunity to live and work on a tropical island for a grassroots conservation organization. Thorough training and instruction will be provided at the beginning of each intern's term, and guidance provided throughout. However due to the structure of the organization on the island and the set-up of various programs, interns may frequently find themselves outside of the direct observation of their supervisors. Interns should be comfortable working in remote and developing areas, must be self-starters, and will be responsible for maintaining regular communication with their supervisors and other organizational volunteers and staff.

Applicants must have a sense of adventure, be comfortable in foreign cultures and able to work efficiently with others. They must be willing to work flexible and occasionally long hours. Interns should be ready to live within a very different cultural setting. China can be a very rewarding experience for those who have an open mind and a willingness to be adventurous! But there are cultural differences that can lead to considerable challenges. The accessibility of nature and openness of the people is part of China's allure but it is important to approach this opportunity with a realistic attitude. Interns can expect not only an invaluable experience working with threatened and endangered sea turtles, but will also learn to see the problem through the eyes of an entirely different culture.


The intern will be trained by our staff, but will be expected to be reliable and self-motivated. Once the intern has gained adequate knowledge about the resident turtles, sea turtle biology, and the tasks involved in maintenance, they will be assigned independent tasks and projects, which they will help initiate. A supervisor will monitor projects and remain accessible to the intern for questions and advice. We are happy to work with schools and professors needing feedback or information about interns’ duties and performance.

Food and Lodging

By living and working in the floating fishermen village, interns will be a part of the community and experience a way of life that few Westerners have. Interns will develop skills used in traditional fishing and a more modest way of living. On-land accommodations are modern with a common living area, internet accessible computers, a shared bathroom, kitchen, an open rooftop terrace, and bedrooms that you may share with one or two others depending on how many volunteers and interns we have at any given time. If it is necessary for you to travel to other cities for whatever work-related reason, lodging will be arranged for you.

Getting to us

We are glad to help organize travel if needed. The best way to get to us is flying to Haikou city (airport code: HAK), Hainan Island, from any major Chinese city, including Hong Kong.

Visa to China

China requires all travelers to obtain a visa for entry into the People's Republic of China. Visas can be obtained in person at the Chinese Embassy or Consulate-General in your area. If it is not convenient for you to visit the Chinese Embassy or Consulate, travel and visa agencies can help you handle the visa process for a fee. Apply for a tourist visa with maximum stay of at least 90 days since our internship program lasts for a minimum of ten (10) weeks.

Internship Fee

Since we are a registered non-profit, we rely on program fees to fuel our mission to save the sea turtles from extinction. Our internship program fee is USD $1,850 for ten (10) weeks.
The internship fee covers the costs of:
  • Lodging (all utilities paid for)
  • Food (3 meals a day)
  • Airport pickup transportation to your dorm.
We do not cover the costs of international airfare or visa fees.


Please review our
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ). If you have other concerns or questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

How to Apply

  1. Complete the Program Registration Form.

  2. Send your resume and cover letter to:
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