Discover FAU Harbor Branch


Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (FAU Harbor Branch) welcomes your enthusiasm, experience, and energy as a volunteer. Anyone interested in volunteering may complete the application. If you are interested in volunteering at the Ocean Discovery Visitors Center, please complete this form in addition to the volunteer application. Consideration is given to all applications and placement is based on the Institute’s needs which may include short-term and on-going opportunities.

Current volunteer opportunities:

Ocean Discovery Visitors Center

Volunteers are needed to staff the welcome desk at the FAU Harbor Branch Ocean Discovery Visitors Center.

The Visitors Center is a destination where the community can come to learn about the research conducted by FAU Harbor Branch marine scientists and engineers. The welcome desk attendant has a very important job; as the first person to receive guests entering the Visitors Center, they are responsible for making a great first impression and promoting our offerings. The attendant’s primary duties include greeting guests as they arrive, collecting basic visitor tracking data, providing information about current outreach programs, keeping a watchful eye on the Visitors Center while staff members are busy, and assisting with various organizational tasks as needed.

In addition to being a part of our outreach team, volunteers will receive a complimentary Immersion Tour, 15% off at the FAU Harbor Branch Gift Shop, and access to special events.

The Visitors Center is open Tuesday - Saturday from 10- 4 pm. The welcome desk attendant is required to fulfill a minimum of one three-hour shift each week (10 am - 1 pm or 1 pm - 4 pm). If you would like to volunteer but are unable to do so on a regular basis, other opportunities may be available. The number of visitors that come to the center each day is highly variable. While some days are very busy, others are quiet; volunteers must be able to remain seated at the welcome desk for the entirety of their shift and be prepared to greet visitors as they arrive. For this reason, volunteers are encouraged to bring a book or other quiet activity and will have access to a computer with internet to use during slow periods.


Marine Mammal Stranding and Population Assessment Volunteer

The FAU Harbor Branch Marine Mammal Stranding and Population Assessment team is federally permitted to complete photo identification surveys on cetacean (dolphin and whale) species in the inshore and offshore waters between Sebastian Inlet and Jupiter Inlet for purposes of population assessment. The team also responds to dead and live stranded cetaceans within Indian River, St. Lucie and Martin counties. Volunteers assist with data collection during surveys, photo analysis and research in the office, assistance with public outreach events and/or stranding response and necropsies. These opportunities are available on an as needed basis.


  1. Volunteer help is needed for the sampling in the lagoon for microplastics. Ideal volunteer needs to be willing to help get samples on a regular basis (i.e., 2 x month, on Mondays mostly), be physically able to work on the boat where it could be slippery and hot being exposed to the sun. Must be able to stay out for a half-day trip (morning) in good weather conditions and calm sea. Volunteers must be able to assist with deploying and pulling back on board a sampling net which weighs about 30 pounds. This operation is conducted by two people. In the case of adverse weather (heavy rain, waves) there will be no sampling

    • The volunteer would work a minimum of 4 hours per week with some weeks up to 8-12 hours.

    • Volunteers must be able to work outside with no protection from the sun, typically for up to two hours.

    • There will be work inside when the sea vegetables are harvested for processing.

    • Volunteers may get their hands salty and wet however gloves will be provided.

    • Volunteers will be trained. A science background is not required however that would be a bonus.

  2. Research group at HBOI is looking for volunteers to help with the following:
    Organize and clean out storage areas.
    Catalogue pictures and slides.
    Convert pictures and slides to digital format.
    This opportunity does not involve lab or fieldwork.

    Must be able to lift up to 30 lbs
    Hours are flexible.
    Project is ongoing until completed.
    Must be comfortable using a slide scanner, flatbed scanner, and paper shredder. Will train.
    Volunteer must be organized and detail oriented.

  3. Description of duties:
    Research group at HBOI is looking for volunteers to help with the following:
    Field work from small boats in the Indian River Lagoon
    Collection of seawater and macroalgae samples.
    Assistance with post field work sample processing and cleanup of equipment.
    Volunteers are welcome to do both field and lab work or just one of the two.


    Must be able to lift up to 30 lbs
    Hours are flexible, but will likely include early mornings for field work.
    Project spans September 2022 to June 2023.
    For fieldwork, must be able to swim and comfortable on a small boat and wading in the Indian River Lagoon.
    Will train for lab work.
    Volunteer must be organized and detail oriented.

For more information, please contact:

Cathy Rossmell, HBOI Volunteer Coordinator

HBOI ocean fish