Career Exploration

May 24, 2021

A four-month internship at Clearwater Marine Aquarium expands biology major Emily Bond's career options.

  • - Emily Bond feeds Cocoa, a green sea turtle.

  • - Emily Bond in the bottlenose dolphin habitat.

The days were long — and the fish were smelly — but Emily Bond has no complaints about her internship at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium

The May 2021 graduate with a degree in biology and minors in chemistry and music, spent four months at the facility, which rescues dolphins, sea turtles, river otters, stingrays, nurse sharks and more and works, where possible, to return them to their homes. 

The aquarium’s Education Department teaches children and adults the importance of conservation, ecology and stewardship. 

It was an ideal location for Bond to do some career exploration. 

“I wanted to have hands-on experience, which I was lacking,” she said. “I have always loved marine biology, and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium is known for research.” 

With the help of Cal U’s Internship Center and a Rutledge Internship Award, available to students from southwestern Pennsylvania who are pursuing unpaid internships outside of Cal U’s immediate area, Bond was able to spend January through May at the facility. 

She described a typical day. 

“There is usually an hour or two of fish prep in the morning to get the diets ready. It’s very smelly, but you get used to it!” she said. “And then we have a bunch of cleaning and tasks, basic upkeep of habitats and preparing for training sessions later in the day. 

“We also do guest interactions. When we’re coming in and out of habitats, we educate people what we’re doing and why, so they learn more about the protection of these species. 

“We’ve learned about animal behavior, the basics of training, how to communicate, how to identify behaviors if they are aggressive or of concern.” 

An opportunity to work with the aquarium’s dive team to become certified was a bonus.

Bond will complete another internship this summer focusing on sea turtle research and conversation at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, in Sarasota, Fla. Graduate school remains an option. 

“It’s been really fun,” she said of her experience in Clearwater. “The staff members are so appreciative of everything that the volunteers and interns do. We work hand in hand. The experience has been very rewarding. 

“I think the internship has helped me to explore options in my field. One thing I noticed, there are long days, it’s hard work, and you’re on your feet a lot, but there weren’t that many times that I didn’t want to get up and go to work. It’s something I found that I really do enjoy.”