Internship Opportunity: Adelie Penguin Population Ecology Internship

Want to gain experience using technology in the field while studying penguins in one of the most remote places in the world? Point Blue Conservation Science is offering an incredible paid internship opportunity to participate in fieldwork on Ross Island in Antarctica! This intern will have the chance to conduct UAV surveys as an FAA certified remote pilot, use GPS, geolocation, and automated PIT-tag readers, and build skills in digitizing data. The ideal candidate should have a strong interest in ecology, previous field experience of at least one season, and a willingness to live in basic tent accommodations at an extremely remote site with variable and very cold weather conditions. Think you're the right person for this unique Antarctic experience? Read the details below!

Date published: 2020/03/05

Join us as we continue our evaluation of the population dynamics of Adélie Penguins at two colonies on Ross Island in the Southern Ross Sea, Antarctica.

Project Summary

You will be part of a team that collects data on many aspects of the species’ breeding and wintering ecology – potentially including foraging effort (using GPS, geolocation, and time depth recorders etc.), meal-size and trip duration (automated PIT-tag readers with scales), chick condition, diet, reproductive success, adult and juvenile survivorship – with the objective of increasing our understanding of population structuring of this and other species through time. We continue to investigate questions such as, why are some colonies bigger than others, why do they occur where they do, what sort of environmental changes impact populations the most, and what is “normal” variability? See for more information on the project.

Role of Intern

Interns participate in all aspects of fieldwork and field-logistics, with guidance provided by senior staff on site. Most hours are spent searching for banded (known-age) penguins and recording nesting status, tasks requiring high levels of patience. Eyestrain is a concern as you will spend up to 8 hours per day reading bands through binoculars in very bright lighting conditions. The intern will participate in several unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) surveys and will be required to obtain FAA certification as a remote pilot prior to deployment. Data work is also intensive – all data are digitized and proofed as they are collected. Interns will participate in some aspects of data management, writing, and/or analyses. Interns are expected to be knowledgeable of the literature related to this project before deployment to Antarctica, and to have a passionate interest in ecology. The ideal candidate can effectively communicate how the experience will increase the likelihood of success in their future career.

Working Conditions 

Time will be split between the fieldwork and office work. The first 3+ months will consist of fieldwork conducted at a remote location (Ross Island, Antarctica), based out of a small hut, sleeping in tents, accessible in good weather conditions only by helicopter from McMurdo station, which in turn is only accessible by military aircraft from New Zealand. Living conditions in the field are rustic, communal space is cramped, there is no running water (no showers). Temperatures range from -20 to +10 C, with intermittent severe wind and snowstorms. Essential cold-weather clothing and related gear provided by NSF. The remainder of the internship (approximately 2 months) will be based at our headquarters in Petaluma, California.

Internship Dates  

This is a five month position expected to begin around November 5, 2020 through April 5, 2021. Mandatory health and dental clearance (required by NSF) at least 8 weeks prior to departure.


$1400 monthly stipend, plus all expenses related to the project will be reimbursed. Flights from any US airport to New Zealand and food and accommodations during transit are covered as well. Shared housing for the office based work provided in Petaluma.


Must have completed a Bachelor’s degree (equivalent combination of education and work experience will be considered) and have at least one season of field experience to apply. US citizenship not required but expenses related to travel to the US are not reimbursable.

How to Apply

Fill out the short answer application form and upload CV here . Please direct any questions to Annie Schmidt: [email protected]

Application period open:  February 20th, 2020 through April 10, 2020

Visit Point Blue Conservation Science for more information and to view other internship opportunities. 

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