The Marine Mammal Center advances global conservation through marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation, scientific research, and education.


The ocean is in trouble. From the depletion of fish stocks to increasing ocean temperatures, human activity threatens marine ecosystems that are vital to the health of our ocean and all life on earth. As a critical first responder to these threats, The Marine Mammal Center is leading the field in ocean conservation through marine mammal rescue, veterinary medicine, science, and education. Marine mammals are ecosystem indicators, and these animals provide insights into human and ocean health threats. Together, we are taking action today to support a network of scientists and stewards to protect our shared ocean environment for future generations.

To advance our mission, we focus our work in three key program areas:

  • Animal Care: With a volunteer force numbering more than 1,200 and the support of a concerned public, the Center is able to respond to marine mammals in distress. Sick and injured animals are treated and rehabilitated at our state-of-the-art veterinary facilities where we care for our patients until they can be released back to their ocean home. Covering a rescue range that spans 600 miles of California coastline and the Big Island of Hawai‘i, the Center responds to more stranded marine mammals than any other organization in the world. Our sought-after experts are deployed locally and internationally to provide technical veterinary expertise and training on best practices ranging from anesthesia to disentanglement.
  • Scientific Research: The Center is a major contributor to the global body of research and knowledge about marine mammal medicine and health. Our veterinary experts develop new clinical techniques to improve marine mammal rehabilitation and care, and investigate the reasons why marine mammals strand and how these factors are connected to ecosystem and human health. Our scientists also investigate how marine mammals use and interact with their ocean environment to better understand and protect them from many threats. Learning from every animal we respond to and studying animals in the wild, our researchers identify novel diseases and pathogens, support endangered and threatened species conservation, identify and help mitigate human-caused threats and partner with scientists around the world on collaborative research that utilizes samples and data collected by the Center. Marine mammal health, ocean health and human health are inextricably linked, and our work advances knowledge of all three to benefit us all.
  • Education: As a teaching hospital, the Center serves as a vital training ground for veterinary professionals from across the globe, expanding the collective understanding and application of marine veterinary science and conservation. Our innovative school and public education programs build a sense of responsibility through a connection to marine mammals and the marine environment, inspiring future ocean stewards and promoting action to protect the ocean. Each year, these education programs and hands-on trainings reach more than 100,000 children and adults, supporting the next generation of informed scientists and engaged citizens who will care for and ensure the health of our ocean and environment.


The Marine Mammal Center was founded in 1975 by three local citizens: Lloyd Smalley, Pat Arrigoni and Paul Maxwell. Since then, and thanks to their vision, the Center is now a global leader in marine mammal health, science and conservation and is the largest marine mammal hospital in the world. The Center operates physical locations in Sausalito, Morro Bay and Moss Landing, CA, as well as in Kona, Hawai‘i, and has an annual operating budget of $11.5M. A team of 80 staff and 1,200 actively engaged volunteers make the Center’s impact possible and keep the Center operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Veterinary Student Externship in Marine Mammal Medicine

The Marine Mammal Center Veterinary Externship Program provides veterinary students in their final/clinical year the opportunity to gain exposure to marine mammal medicine, rehabilitation, husbandry and necropsy. Shared housing MAY be available for a fee at a TMMC Guest House located within the Marin Headlands within walking distance of TMMC, however housing is the students’ responsibility and may not be available during part or all of the students’ rotation. Transportation is the externs’ responsibility; there is extremely limited public transportation to TMMC. This program seeks to increase the diversity of veterinarians involved in aquatic animal medicine and wildlife conservation by promoting Diversity, Equity and Inclusion within this field; priority is also based on a demonstrated interest in marine mammal medicine.

Founded in 1975, The Marine Mammal Center is an internationally renowned and state-of-the art marine mammal hospital that advances global conservation through marine mammal rescue and rehabilitation, scientific research, and education. Each year The Center treats approximately 600 – 800 sick, injured and orphaned marine mammals with the goal of rehabilitation and release. The Center collaborates with over 30 different scientific, educational, federal, state and non-profit organizations from around the world. We are a corps of dedicated volunteers and an engaged community, and are proud to be an equal opportunity, non-profit employer.

Location of Externship

Main Hospital in Sausalito, CA with potential opportunities to work at our triage facilities (Monterey Bay Operations, San Luis Obispo Operations).

Program Description

The student extern will work under the direct supervision of veterinary staff and volunteers, and students will participate in animal husbandry, veterinary examination and diagnostic procedures, surgical and anesthetic procedures, recordkeeping, daily clinical rounds and necropsies. The student will also complete a project during the externship and present the results to staff and volunteers during the last week of their rotation. The externship is open to US and International students.

Extern Qualifications

  • The veterinary externship is an unpaid position, and is ONLY OPEN TO STUDENTS WHO WILL BE IN THEIR FINAL/CLINICAL YEAR OF VETERINARY SCHOOL at the time of their rotation at TMMC.
  • Applicants must provide a letter of intent/cover letter, INCLUDING 3 blocks of 4-week long preferred dates (if the student schedule is completely open for several months, please indicate that as well)
  • Applicants must provide two letters of recommendation from individuals familiar with the applicant’s academic and/or clinical performance. Please upload references as ‘additional documents’ with the application OR have the letters emailed directly to VetSciAdmin@tmmc.org
  • Applicants must provide a current curriculum vitae (upload under resume).
  • Applicants must provide proof of medical insurance
  • Applicants should be able to demonstrate maturity and professional conduct at all times.
  • Applicants must demonstrate excellent skills in communication, multi-tasking, be able to deal with ambiguity, and maintain composure under pressure.
  • Applicants must be able to accept long hours and unpredictable schedules, including weekends.
  • Applicants should possess practical computer knowledge with programs such as MS Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.
  • The Center is a teaching hospital, accommodating large numbers of students each year. Applicants must be able to work well in a team setting with people of different backgrounds, nationalities, race and creed. While we stride to provide each student with as much learning opportunities as possible, individual experience will depend on case load and how many students we have on site.
  • This externship position involves extensive physical activity, such as: lifting, restraining and moving animals. Must be able to lift 50 pounds, be on your feet long hours and handle being outdoors in varying weather conditions.
  • Applicants are required to pass a background check and a motor vehicle report prior to acceptance into the externship.
  • Please note, that we reserve the right to terminate the externship at any time if needed.

Extern Schedule

  • The position is for a four-week term during the months of March- September of 2022
  • Work schedule must be flexible and may include evening shifts, weekends, and holidays.
  • Once accepted into the program you will receive a more detailed schedule

Additional Opportunities

Additional opportunities may include traveling down to our satellite facilities, Monterey Bay Operations in Moss Landing and San Luis Obispo Operations in Morro Bay. Externs may have the opportunity to work at both of our facilities as part of a 2-4 day trip. (This opportunity would be set up based upon extern’s interest and ability to travel to these locations.) If interested, there is also the opportunity to work or shadow in our education department.

Applications will be accepted thru December 22, 2020.