IGS Internships

Environmental Conservation

Hawaiian Reef Ecology

IGS and the Univerity of Hawaii are teaming up to provide an on-going research/educational opportunity at one of the premier marine research locations in the United States. This is for interns who are looking for exposure to leading marine scientists and an atmosphere conducive to marine education. The island sees over 4000 visitors per year that participate in overnight marine camps, science projects, and island tours. We will limit this project to six IGS interns at one time. This is really a great area of Hawaii and offers the best of both worlds. You will be only 15 miles from Waikiki and can explore a lot of great places on the island using this as a base. With that in mind, the project will consist of the following activities.

PART ONE: Using snorkel and mask, conduct surveys of sensitive coral areas. Interns will record coral species diversity and fish counts in areas currently facing increasing traffic by boat mooring. Results will be catalogued and data entered to record the changing composition of the reef.

: Interns will learn to identify the species inhabiting the intertidal zone. They will monitor how human usage is or may in the future effect species counts in the area.

: Interns will have the opportunity to meet with one of the island supervisors and research projects that may be of interest. If you want to have more time in the water, this will be your chance to join in or create a project that will allow you to be hands on with the marine ecosystems.

: Interns will be posted in sensitive areas of the island and will help educate visitors about safe coral practices. Specifically, boats and their anchors are causing coral damage and to the area as well as people walking on the corals or spearfishing. Interns will be taught about this fragile ecosystem and will train visitors on reef etiquette.

: Interns will interview visitors to the island and will record the different demographics of people using the area to better assist the creation of a protection plan based on the use patterns of visitors.

: Interns will become familiar with the different marine research ongoing on the island and will assist with educational tours of Coconut Island and share the current research projects with the public.

This is a new program so the above description may change and evolve so please be flexible as we try to put together a project that will have real-life benefits to both interns, the public, the ecosystem, and the island staff.


IGS has placed students on the island in years past. We had worked with one of the leading spinner dolphin specialists in Hawaii and she was based on Coconut. Students always enjoyed themselves and always gave positive reviews. The main thing to remember is that it is a premier research center and the scientists are serious about their work. So, you need to treat it like a campus and not a beach retreat. If you don’t see scientists sunbathing on chairs neither should you. Do as the scientists do.

Description: Aerial view of Coconut Island in Kaneohe Bay.LOGISTICS

Per the website, we will pick you up at the airport with a sign with your name on it. We will take you to the internship site and then to your house. We will provide bus information so you know how to commute to the internship site. The picture shows the island where you will work. It is a 2 minute boat ride from the mainland.


We set up housing on a custom basis. So, that means we actively go out and speak with landlords and find you the best option in our budget. We will send you photos of the house and roommate info before signing a lease. So, you can approve it first. If you would like to upgrade your housing to a studio or a room with a private bath in the room that may be possible. Please let us know ahead of time and we will tell you the cost.

Below are events offered on the island for visitors

Walking Tour -
This 2 to 21/2 hour tour includes a boat ride to beautiful Moku o Lo'e island, guided discovery of the island's natural and human history, as well as stops at the shark ponds, touch pool and other areas to learn about our cutting edge research. This program is available for individuals, as well as community and school groups.

Expedition to Moku O'Loe -
Become part of a marine biology research team on the water and in the lab during this 3 hour program. Participants begin on our research vessel Honu Kai deploying a plankton net as they travel across Kane'ohe Bay. Upon reaching Moku O'Loe (Coconut Island) and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, they encounter sharks and other research animals, then do two hands-on labs, one analyzing the plankton from the research cruise and the other sorting through invasive seaweeds to separate out and recover small creatures from the bay.

Coconut Island Overnight -
Participants pitch tents creating a marine biology field camp; tour the island, and participate in a night lab dockside and in the lab. Scout troops can earn an oceanography merit badge or activity awards, school groups get a marine science intensive, and family groups can just relax and be marine biologists for a very entertaining evening (non-camping facilities also available at extra cost). This is an unforgettable experience.