COAST Student Internships Summer 2016

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service West Coast Region Protected Resources Division Green and Pink Abalone Conservation and Culture Internship


Host: NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is dedicated to protecting and preserving our nation's living marine resources through scientific research, fisheries management, enforcement, and habitat conservation. The NMFS West Coast Region works to conserve, protect, and manage resources under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), and sustainably manage West Coast fisheries as guided by the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation Act. The Protected Resources Division works to conserve and restore marine resources on the West Coast and is the region lead for ESA policy and coordination, recovery planning and implementation for marine species other than salmon and steelhead, and management and conservation of marine mammals under the MMPA.

Location: Based in Long Beach at the NMFS West Coast Region Office and at the Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI) in San Pedro; occasional travel to other captive abalone facilities and field sites throughout southern California as needed.

Internship Dates: June 6 - August 19, 2016; start and end dates flexible with regard to student’s academic commitments.

Stipend: $4,000.00

Time Commitment: The internship is a full time, 11-week commitment. Over the 11 weeks, the intern may take up to five days off for personal reasons, vacation or illness. If participation is less than 100%, the stipend will be pro-rated.

Internship Focus:NMFS works in collaboration with many partners to protect and conserve abalone species along the U.S. West Coast, by monitoring and evaluating the status of the species, developing and implementing protections, and carrying out on-the-ground conservation efforts. Currently, white abalone and black abalone species are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and green abalone, pink abalone, and pinto abalone species are listed as NMFS Species of Concern. This internship with NMFS consists of two components and will involve working in an office setting, in a lab, and in the field:

  • The intern will evaluate the status of green abalone and pink abalone in southern California and Baja California. NMFS assessed the status of green abalone and pink abalone and added them to the Species of Concern list in 2004 to highlight declines in population abundance and density and the need to implement proactive conservation efforts. However, more information (much of which is unpublished data) has become available since that time, some of which indicates that populations are rebounding. The intern will be responsible for gathering, evaluating, and synthesizing the best available data on the status of green and pink abalone since 2004 and developing a draft informal status review document. This project may involve developing a database for the survey data and assisting NMFS with developing recommendations to improve coordination and monitoring efforts for the two species.
  • The intern will assist NMFS with a larger abalone restoration project in partnership with The Bay Foundation (TBF). The focus of this project is to develop and evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of larval and juvenile outplanting methods for abalone restoration. The results will be applied to restoration of ESA-listed abalone and Species of Concern. TBF is developing an abalone culture facility at the Southern California Marine Institute (SCMI) in San Pedro to captively breed green abalone and red abalone for outplanting. At a minimum, the intern will assist with abalone culture at SCMI and be responsible for maintaining a database on the survival, growth, and health of the abalone. Depending on the intern’s experience and interests, the intern may conduct a more focused study (e.g., to evaluate factors affecting broodstock condition, abalone growth, or feeding) and/or participate in field activities, including spawning, outplanting, and monitoring.

At the end of the internship, the intern will be expected to provide the following to NMFS:
  • A draft informal status review document for pink abalone and green abalone;
  • An organized database and summary of abalone survival, growth, and health at SCMI; and,
  • If applicable, a report summarizing the focused lab study and findings.

Project Responsibilities:

  • Conduct a review of peer-reviewed and gray literature published since 2004 on the status and biology of pink abalone and green abalone.
  • Work with biologists at local universities, non-governmental organizations, and state and federal agencies to gather the best available data on pink abalone and green abalone in southern California (and Baja California, if available).
  • Create a database for the survey data that can be used to facilitate data management and coordination among researchers and to identify monitoring needs.
  • Evaluate and synthesize the best available data and information for pink abalone and green abalone into a draft informal status review document.
  • Work with TBF to assist with abalone husbandry, spawning, and rearing at SCMI on a weekly basis. At a minimum, record data on holding conditions (e.g., water temperature) and the survival, growth, and health of the abalone, and enter the data into a database on a regular basis.
  • Duties may also include working with NMFS and TBF to develop and conduct a focused study on captive breeding and rearing of abalone; assisting with field spawning and outplanting efforts as part of the top-side crew on research vessels; and diving to assist with abalone outplanting efforts and monitoring surveys.
  • Optional (depending on experience and preferences): Assist TBF with SCUBA diving operations for Southern California Abalone and Kelp Forest Restoration projects.

Preferred Experience and Capabilities: This internship will require excellent verbal, written, and organizational skills. Experience with data management (MS Office and Access Database) is desired. Fluency in Spanish is desired, but not required, because the intern may be contacting Mexican scientists as well as U.S. scientists for data. Dive experience and previous experience working with abalone conservation, monitoring, and/or captive rearing and propagation is a plus. Intern must have the ability to participate in a team-oriented process while taking initiative and working independently.
NOTE: Scientific diving is NOT required for placement in this internship. However, if you are a current scientific diver, you may have the opportunity to participate in NOAA-led dives as part of this internship.

Skills Gained: The intern will gain perspective on science, management, and policy issues related to NMFS, the ESA, and abalone conservation in California. The intern will gain experience working with a small team and working independently to gather, evaluate, and synthesize information into a comprehensive status review document for green abalone and pink abalone. The intern will also gain hands-on experience working with a dynamic group to implement on-the-ground abalone conservation efforts, ranging from captive breeding and rearing to outplanting. The intern will learn how to operate in a professional office and interact with NMFS colleagues and partners at conservation organizations, universities, and state and federal agencies. The intern will be able to contribute to abalone conservation efforts in southern California.

Eligibility/Requirements: The internship is intended for upperclassmen (juniors/seniors) and graduate students. Intern must be 18 years or older. Intern is not required to drive but must be able to get to both the Long Beach Office and to SCMI. Applicants must be able to work independently and interact in a professional manner with the project partners, the public, researchers, and other NMFS staff. Intern must be able to keep excellent notes and organize various streams of information into technical reports. Travel may be required to abalone facilities throughout southern California and aboard research vessels as needed to execute this project. Applicants who wish to participate in SCUBA diving operations must include with their application: 1) a letter of reciprocity from their university’s dive safety officer (DSO) indicating that they are certified and authorized as a scientific diver (and will be for the duration of the internship) and 2) a short paragraph detailing their diving experience in temperate kelp forest conditions. They must also meet the following requirements:

  • Current AAUS certified Scientific Diver
  • DAN Insurance
  • Current AAUS-approved medical exam with physician approval
  • Current First Aid, CPR, and Emergency Oxygen Administration training
  • Minimum of 50 dives in cold water kelp forest environment
  • A minimum of 4 dives within the past year
  • Excellent underwater navigation skills
  • Scuba equipment serviced by an authorized technician within the last 12 months
  • Swim test and check-out dive
  • Ability to transport self and gear to office, lab and boat sites
  • Valid CA driver’s license

A Federal background investigation, to include fingerprints and character references, is required. Applicants are also subject to additional eligibility and requirements that can be found here.

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