Biscayne National Park

Underwater Reef-fish Census Intern (DHA-RA) -  Miami, FL

Position Type: LHIP Direct Hire Authority Resource Assistance (DHA-RA)
Primary Field: Resource Management

This internship will support the park’s efforts to monitor sensitive reef fish resources. The intern will be expected to be a major contributor to the completion of reef fish surveys at 100 or more reef sites in the park. These reef fish surveys have been completed since 1999, and as such, provide an excellent mechanism to track trends in distribution, abundances, and sizes of reef fish in Biscayne. Furthermore, in light of declining fisheries resources in the park, more stringent fishing regulations are anticipated to be implemented by July of 2020, and thus, the completion of reef fish surveys in the summer of 2020 will be critical to assess the latest status of targeted reef fish and their responses to new regulations. To complete surveys, the intern will work as part of a four-person team of SCUBA divers. At each site, the team will descend to the reef and collect data on the species present, as well as the numbers and size range of each species. Additionally, a rapid habitat assessment will be completed. Following field work, the intern will be expected to enter all data into the online database system in a timely fashion.

If chosen as a DHA project, the intern will be required to complete analyses of the abundance and size distributions for a suite of five targeted species. The intern will be expected to have all data used for this effort compiled into a well-organized Excel spreadsheet. Graphics (which could include histograms and maps) would be produced and would also be saved on the park’s servers for later access. This work completed by the DHA will be a critical step towards park management being able to evaluate the efficacy of newly implemented fishing regulations which seek to increase the sizes and abundances of targeted fish species by 20% over baseline conditions.


  • The applicant must be SCUBA certified from an accredited SCUBA diving organization (such as PADI or NAUI). Preference will be given to applicants with an active AAUS Scientific Dive authorization at their current institution. If the applicant has the basic SCUBA certification but not the AAUS certification, he/she will be required to become certified as an NPS diver, which includes a written exam, comprehensive dive physical, and various in-water skills tests, including demonstrating basic skills and swimming extended distances. If you do not feel you could successfully complete these tasks, please do not apply.

  • Ability to identify reef fish of Florida is ideal, but not required (and can be provided during the first weeks of the internship as needed). The intern must be comfortable working on boats, and must not be prone to seasickness. Working conditions will involve field days in the intense heat and humidity of south Florida, and being submerged underwater for as much as five hours total each day. Thus, the applicant should be comfortable working in these conditions.

Learning Goals: 

The intern will master a reef fish resource monitoring method that is utilized across the entire Florida reef tract from the Dry Tortugas to Martin County. The intern will gain solid experience working as a scientific diver and collecting data under a variety of environmental conditions. The intern will be exposed to scientific methods as well as fishery management topics. Mastery of Florida’s reef fish identification is also expected as a result of this internship.

Work Environment: 

This position will be heavily field-based. The intern can expect that in any given 5-day field week, at least 3, and more likely 4, will be field-based (all weather-dependent, of course). Office-based activities will center around data entry.

Driver's License:

The intern will need to be able to drive from his/her residence to the park each day.