The Rundown: Marine Biology Internships
By Michaela Farnham
Internships, we have all heard about them and are usually trying to get as many as we can. But for those who haven’t, what does being a marine biology intern look like? How do you get one? And what does a day in the life of an intern look like? Well lucky for you I was fortunate enough to interview Juliet Gressle (@julietg3), recent Marine Biology graduate and intern extraordinaire.
Hey! Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Juliet, I’m 23, and I graduated from Florida Institute of Technology in May 2017 with my Bachelor of Science in Marine Biology. Since then I’ve been traveling all over the world completing different marine biology internships, which has been unreal. I love the beach, country music, tattoos, iced coffee, all things Disney, planning travel adventures, and of course, anything and everything related to the ocean!
Be one with the animal, become the animal! Juliet mimicking one of her furry friends on the Galapagos Islands. (Photo: Juliet Gressle)
Describe the path you took to where you are now…
After I decided I wanted to become a marine biologist, I tried to get involved in the field in any way I could. I started volunteering at my local aquarium when I was 15 and did that through high school. While I was in college I got involved in undergraduate research and took a field biology course in the Galapagos Islands, which definitely ignited my passion for traveling.
After I graduated I ended up working for a marine-biology focused summer camp for teens. Through that camp I gained a lot of experience working with sea turtles, which helped me get my internship in the Seychelles Islands off the coast of Africa. I was part of the Conservation team at Fregate Island Private, a luxury hotel. While I was there I gained a lot of experience measuring and tagging hawksbill and green sea turtles, and with that experience I was able to get my next position as a Research Assistant for the Sea Turtle Conservancy in Tortuguero, Costa Rica. I helped measure and tag leatherback and hawksbill turtles while I was there, and after that internship I was the Unit Leader for Sea Turtle Camp’s Hawaii travel program. Sea Turtle Camp is a marine biology focused summer camp for teens, and I loved being able to educate young adults on the importance of marine conservation. After having a lot of field work experience and experience living in tropical conditions, I was able to get an internship at Bimini Sharklab in the Bahamas. I’ve learned so much from all of these experiences and every experience I’ve had has helped me in some way.
Being able to complete all of these internships has been a dream come true. I’ve been able to see some of the most incredible marine life, I have friends all over the world, and I’ve met so many incredible biologists who I really look up to. Constantly traveling and living out of a suitcase isn’t always easy or ideal, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I don’t know about you, but guiding baby turtles to their ocean homes in the Seychelles seems like a pretty awesome job! (Photos: Juliet Gressle)
What does a day in your life look like?
It depends on where I’m living and what internship I’m completing. I just finished an internship with Bimini Biological Field Station (Bimini SharkLab) in the Bahamas, which was a dream. We started our days with breakfast at 7:30 am and found out the day’s activities by 8:30. There were a variety of activities we would do, including stingray catching, gill-netting for juvenile lemon sharks, nurse shark wrangling, baiting for large sharks, fishing for bait, fixing nets, or setting long-lines. We usually came back to the lab for lunch between 12-1, and then did a different activity in the afternoon. Sometimes we would spend all day in the field and bring a packed lunch with us. We always came back to the lab for dinner sometime between 5:30-7:30 pm, and then we had our evenings free. I was in bed by 10 pm every night, and then we got up and did it all again!
Juliet at her most recent internship with the Bimini SharkLab. (Photo: Juliet Gressle)
Where do you go from here?
I leave for my next internship in the Maldives in 2 weeks and I can’t wait! I’ll be interning for Marine Savers at the Four Seasons Kuda Huraa, where I’ll be assisting in coral propagation, sea turtle conservation, and guest excursions to help increase awareness of marine conservation in the Maldives.
To stay updated on Juliet’s exploits follow her at @julietg3.