Volunteer With PacMam

Volunteer with Pacific Mammal Research and help us conduct vital research on resident marine mammals, share your knowledge with community members at fun local events, and learn more about being a marine biologist!

We welcome volunteers of all ages, abilities and backgrounds and have a wide variety of different jobs and tasks you can help with. If you are interested in a more committed volunteer position, ask one of our team about our internship opportunities!

Ways to Volunteer

  • Fieldwork: help with our research in the field by collecting and recording data while scanning for and spotting marine mammals (NOTE: this includes a hike over uneven ground and sitting outside for 2 hours).
  • Citizen Science: train to become a Citizen Scientist to get involved in our research on your own schedule. Learn to report sightings, send us photos, and submit data.
  • Education: join our educational outreach efforts to encourage active stewardship of the marine environment with school groups, at local workshops, and fun community events.
  • Data Entry: support our office-based data entry such as processing, cropping, and renaming photos as well as adding to our scientific databases, and more.
  • Administrative/Accounting: give back to the community through putting your background in administration or accounting to use with our non-profit.
  • Join Our Board: contribute to our long-term goals, help us spread our message in the community, and share your knowledge and expertise by joining our Board of Directors.

If you are interested in getting involved with PacMam in any capacity, get in touch with us! We can’t wait to talk with you.

Intern With PacMam

Looking to expand your resume or want real-life experience working in marine mammal research? Get in touch!

If you’re looking for more involvement with PacMam and can commit to helping on a regular basis, an internship could be the option for you!

Internships are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis, and are ideal for students, recent graduates, and those looking to expand their working knowledge of marine research. At this time our internships are unpaid, however we are always on the lookout for stipends and funds to support these incredible individuals on their journey!

Current intern project areas include passive acoustic monitoring and seal photo-ID.

If you’re interested in becoming a PacMam intern, email us and let’s talk!

What You’ll Get

  • Practical Experience: one of the major skillsets employers and colleges look for is practical, hands-on experience working in marine-related field. Our interns have opportunities to participate in a wide range of research activities including photo-ID training, educational outreach, data processing, boat-based research, and much more!
  • Mentorship & Support: many of our interns are at a critical stage in their career, often having just graduated from high school, attending college, or recently graduated from an undergraduate degree. PacMam interns receive personal support and guidance from our seasoned researchers, who cumulatively have more than 30 years experience working in marine mammal research!
  • Reference/Letter of Support: we have provided references, testimonials, and letters of support for many of our former volunteers and interns.
  • Opportunities to Join Our Team: by joining PacMam as an intern, you’ll have an inside look into our organization and how it operates. Both of our current Research Assistants started off as interns at PacMam, so if you’re looking to expand your resume and experience further by joining our team, interning is the best way to get started!


We believe in providing high quality education and research experiences for high school and college students, recent graduates, and scientists who are just embarking on their career. Below are some testimonials from past interns who share how this experience has changed their lives!

Madison Miele – Intern 2021

In 2021, I had the amazing opportunity of being able to intern with Pacific Mammal Research with Cindy Elliser and Katrina Maclver. I studied Biology with Marine Emphasis, and am going to advance my career by getting a Master’s degree in Marine Biology. Interning with PacMam has given me valuable career-related experience, while also learning so much from both Cindy and Kat. From getting hands-on field research experience, to working outside of the field on photo identification and data tracking, I have learned useful skills that will carry with me throughout my future career as a marine biologist. Cindy and Kat have also been extremely supportive and helpful throughout my time at PacMam, and I wouldn’t have been able to obtain the opportunities I have if it wasn’t for them! They genuinely care about their interns and want to see them succeed. Even when I wasn’t able to intern as often, Cindy was always checking in, giving advice, and helping me with graduate school applications. Being able to volunteer in a fun and supportive environment, while also learning important skills has increased my love for marine life, and has given me amazing mentors and references that I hope I will always stay in contact with. I hope that after I obtain a Master’s degree and see where my career takes me, I will be able to come back to PacMam, as it has been an amazing opportunity I will never forget. I am forever grateful to both Cindy and Kat for their ongoing support and giving me the skills necessary to advance my career.

Daniel McHugh – Intern 2019

In the Spring of 2019, I was able to work with and learn from the awesome marine biologists at Pacific Mammal Research, Cindy Elliser and Kat MacIver. As a wildlife biology student and aspiring wildlife biologist, it was an honor to pick the brain of two individuals performing cutting-edge work in their field. I was able to get hands on experience in the field, learn the ins and outs of translating field work and office work to sound research, and learn practical skills such as reading and critically examining scientific literature. Not only was the work fun and informative, but it opened doors to what has become a fruitful beginning to what I hope will be a long career in wildlife. Even after transferring to University, Cindy has continually offered help in my career pursuits and been engaged with helping me achieve my goals. For that, I am forever grateful for the opportunity to work with PacMam!

I am currently a senior at the University of Montana in terrestrial wildlife biology. I have had the privilege to work with black bears, bighorn sheep, rocky mountain elk, and mule deer. These opportunities would likely have never come my way if it wasn’t for the work I was able to perform at PacMam to get experience. PacMam is not only dedicated to conservation in terms of applying sound science to current issues surrounding marine wildlife, but also investing in the future of wildlife by teaching and involving willing students.

Ciera Edison – Intern 2018

In 2018 I was granted the opportunity to become a research intern working side by side with Dr. Cindy Elliser and Katrina MacIver of Pacific Mammal Research (PacMam). I went to school for Fisheries and Wildlife Sciences where I specialized in marine mammal conservation and ecology. After college, I discovered PacMam while seeking out opportunities to continue growing my knowledge and experience with marine mammal research. I thoroughly enjoyed my time spent at this organization. There was an even balance of time spent in the field and office where you learn everything about conducting research. Tasks like grant applications, recording ethograms, as well as photo ID process and analysis, allows you to gain so much knowledge and have fun while doing so! PacMam genuinely cares about their volunteers. They are there to support you and assist you in accomplishing your goals. Since completing my internship I remain in contact with Kat and Cindy. Not only did I gain valuable experience, but also great references for future job opportunities. Out of all my years of volunteering and internship experiences, my time spent at PacMam was the most beneficial to my career and one I will never forget. I hope to return again soon, whether just for a day or a whole season.

**Ciera has now rejoined the PacMam Team as Research Assistant.