Clearwater Marine Aquarium volunteer group


Volunteers are vital to our work!

CMA volunteers are dedicated individuals interested in a hands-on approach to preserving the environment and marine life. They dedicate regular, significant time to our mission and the rewards are meaningful.

A Volunteer Testimonial

“On September 15, 2011 I had the good fortune of becoming a Volunteer for Clearwater Marine Aquarium. Over the past five plus years my love for animals, especially marine life has become a strong passion of mine. I’ve made it a priority to work hard at obtaining a well-rounded knowledge of not only our mission of rescue, rehab and release but also to share with our guests my experience, strength and hope for not only preserving our environment and marine life but to make it better. I feel honored, privileged and thankful to have achieved my goal of being promoted to the rank of Master Volunteer.”Eileen Elphick, Master Volunteer

For more information, please select a volunteer program below.

Adult Volunteer Program

Junior Volunteer Program

Adult Volunteer Program

As a CMA volunteer you will be working side by side with staff members, volunteers and interns, all dedicated to CMA’s mission. Most CMA volunteer opportunities require weekly commitment to a shift ranging from 4-6 hours. If you volunteer in a department with a weekly commitment requirement, you will select a day and shift time for your weekly reoccurring volunteer shift.

Can’t commit to a weekly shift?  That’s OK!  Some departments have a more flexible schedule; such as our Dive, Rescue and Special Events Teams.

Please carefully review the volunteer descriptions for each department below to ensure that you select areas that will be a good fit for your skills, interests and schedule before submitting an application.

Volunteer Teams

Volunteer opportunities are available in many of our departments
(Click for department descriptions)


Frequently Asked Questions

If you are at least 18 years or older and interested in volunteering, apply here 

If you are 15-17, please apply through the Junior Volunteer Program.

We look forward to welcoming you to the CMA team!

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Aquatics/Water Quality

This department oversees and maintains the water environment of all animals at CMA. It all starts with having an environment in which our resident and rehab animals can flourish! This department is also responsible for aquarist duties.

Responsibilities Include:

  • Water chemistry of all animals at CMA
  • Logging of Data
  • Data entry
  • Assist with some fish feedings
  • Filter pressure/heater/chiller data recording * Must be able walk throughout the facility for sample collection and climb ladders for equipment inspection.

The Water Quality volunteer position requires a minimum 4 month commitment to a weekly reoccurring shift, same day and time each week. Shifts in this department are 4 hours long, AM and PM volunteer shifts are available in this department 7 days a week; new volunteers are assigned their weekly shift based on their availability and our current shift openings.

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Dive Team

Maintaining water quality and appearance of our pools is the top priority for the CMA Dive Team.  Many pools are in direct sunlight which increases algae growth.  Therefore, we need to enlist committed volunteer SCUBA divers to assist with our pool cleaning challenge. Air tanks and some basic equipment are provided.  Applicants to become a CMA Volunteer Diver must be certified as an Open Water Diver from an internationally recognized agency (PADI, NAUI, SSI, etc) and hold a current CPR/AED certification.  Dive volunteer applicants will be asked to provide a copy of their SCUBA certification card and their CPR/AED certification.

The Dive volunteer position allows a flexible schedule with AM and PM shifts available for sign up and a minimum commitment of 2 dives per month.

Dive Safety Association logo

Click Here To Join DAN!

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Education volunteers work two Sea Life Safari boat tours during their shift. Volunteers act as boat mates and participate in other educational activities. Duties include assisting guests from the queue line to the boat, helping passengers to embark and disembark the boat, pulling a trawl net, assisting with marine life data collection, helping with the “show and tell” of marine organisms by passing around plastic containers while onboard. You must be able to lift a bucket with water, and have reasonable balance on a moving boat. In addition to working on our sea life safari boats, volunteers in Education assist the Education Department with other educational activities, such as off-site visits and tabling events.

The Education volunteer position requires a minimum 4 month commitment to a weekly reoccurring shift, same day and time each week. Shifts in this department are 4 hours long, AM and PM volunteer shifts are available in this department 7 days a week; new volunteers are assigned their weekly shift based on their availability and our current shift openings.

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Environmental Operations

Join our Environmental Operations Team and be part of our Facilities Maintenance Department! Environmental Operations oversees the custodial needs of Clearwater Marine Aquarium.  As an E/O Volunteer, you will be making a huge difference for our guests and the animals by performing routine maintenance around the aquarium.

Volunteer Responsibilities Include:

  • Maintain a clean appearance to glass/acrylic fixtures and aquariums.
  • Keeping the floors clear of debris and water.
  • Taking out trash when needed.
  • Sanitize touchpoints.
  • Stocking guest areas.
  • Responding to requests from any department.
  • Specialized tasks as needed.
  • Inventory management.
  • Ability to positively communicate with guests, staff and other volunteers.

Yes, we won’t lie — it can be a dirty job. But, believe it or not, it is very rewarding and pretty fun!

The E/O volunteer position is a weekly reoccurring shift, same day and time each week. Shifts are 5 hours long, with the choice of a morning or afternoon and are available 7 days a week.

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Guest Experience

Guest Experience volunteers are the ambassadors to CMA. They are the Aquarium hosts to all visitors. Volunteers in the Guest Experience department should possess a positive, outgoing personality and enjoy interacting with people and be excited about the Aquarium’s mission.

Guest Experience volunteers engage CMA guests and attend to their needs. Tasks include: offering presentations to large audiences, giving private tours to 12 to 15 people, escorting guests, staffing the touch tanks, and answering questions about our mission, resident animals and the Dolphin Tale films. Volunteers must be comfortable with standing and walking on cement, going up and down stairs, and moving quickly from one task to another. Guest Experience volunteers are outgoing, friendly, enjoy talking and are able to work in a fast-paced environment. New Guest Experience volunteers must be prepared to study and absorb a large amount of information about CMA.

The Guest Experience volunteer position requires a minimum 4 month commitment to a weekly reoccurring shift, same day and time each week. Shifts in this department are 4 hours long, AM and PM volunteer shifts are available in this department 7 days a week; new volunteers are assigned their weekly shift based on their availability and our current shift openings.

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Marine Mammals

In the Mammals Division, some of your responsibilities as a volunteer may include the following:

  • Learning and assisting in food preparation – a large majority of the day is spent sorting and inspecting fish, processing fish, and washing dishes.
  • Conducting behavioral observations, maintaining behavioral logs – records of feeding and observation sessions are maintained daily.
  • Participating in the daily maintenance of animal exhibits – more cleaning!
  • Narrating presentations for visitors of the aquarium
  • Interacting with encounter participants and guests of the aquarium

The Marine Mammal volunteer program is tailored to meet your personal abilities, experience level, and educational background. Marine Mammal volunteers should have no expectation of animal contact / handling.

The Marine Mammal volunteer position requires a minimum 4 month commitment to a weekly reoccurring shift, same day and time each week. Shifts in this department are 5 hours, several shift times are available each day and volunteers are needed 7 days a week; new volunteers are assigned their weekly shift based on their availability and our current shift openings.

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Rescue Team

The CMA Rescue Team has volunteer positions available in both Stranding Administration and Stranding Rescue Response.

Stranding Administrative Volunteer:
Support the mission of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium’s and the work of the Rescue Department through attending, teaching, and developing department trainings as assigned, representing the aquarium at outreach events, and promoting stewardship of the marine environment. Administrative volunteers will assist with day-to-day department functions including equipment management, monitoring the emergency Rescue Response Hotline, responding to distressed and injured marine life, and data entry.

Rescue Response Volunteer:

  • Obtain knowledge of rescue policies, Standard Operating Procedures, and day-to-day functions.
  • Provide exceptional guest and public interaction for all stranding-related responses.
  • Learn and perform behavioral observations on resident animals in conjuncture with Marine Mammal Department.
  • Learn diet preparation and habitat maintenance of resident animals in conjuncture with Marine Mammal Department.
  • Assist with maintenance of equipment through inspection and inventory.
  • Assist with public outreach to promote conservation within the community.
  • Assist the Rescue Team in response to stranding events when contacted.
  • Assist other Animal Care departments as needed and requested by other departments.
  • Learn and be able to present the Stranding Demonstration.
  • Assist with habitat maintenance.

*For Rescue Response, a swim test is required within 90 days.

Our Rescue Team volunteers are on a flexible schedule with 4 hour minimum monthly commitment to remain active members of the Rescue Team.

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Retail (Gift Shop/Warehouse)

There are front and back of house volunteer positions in the retail department.

Front of House Location – CMA Retail Store: Assist guests, clean and replenish, recover merchandise.
Suggested Skills: Comfortable with the public and enjoy guest interaction

Back of House Location – Retail Warehouse: Preparing and shipping online orders, counting, pricing, labeling, sorting, and organizing merchandise.
Suggested Skills: Task oriented attention to details, good at taking direction and following instructions.

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Special Events

Clearwater Marine Aquarium offers a unique experience for our guests while providing music, food and a fun atmosphere with an outstanding marine facility as an overlay. HERE’S THE BEST PART – All proceeds from events stay with us here at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to assist in our mission to rescue, rehabilitation, and release.

Our Special Events volunteers are on a flexible schedule with a minimum commitment of 1 event per month to remain active volunteers.

Frequently Asked Questions

How old do I need to be to volunteer?

CMA volunteers are 18 & up. We have a junior volunteer program for students 15-17. Junior applications are accepted in the Fall/Spring/Summer each year. Junior volunteers do not work in animal care departments. To apply for our junior volunteer program please click here.

*Certified divers 15 & up can apply for the dive team at any time throughout the year.
I do not have any experience working with animals. Will I still be able to volunteer?

Yes, we will train you for whichever department you are assigned to volunteer in.

I need to do community service for court. Can I volunteer at CMA?

We do not accept court appointed community service volunteers at this time.

Will I get to swim with the dolphins or feed the dolphins if I volunteer?

No, only our highly trained animal care staff has one on one contact with the dolphins.

Can I volunteer in more than one department?

Yes you may, providing you are able to meet the shift commitments in each department. In more training intensive departments, we may ask that you get settled in to your first department before adding an additional commitment.

I am a seasonal resident, can I still volunteer?

Yes, as long as you are able to meet the 4 month minimum weekly shift commitment.

I can only volunteer on the weekends. Can you still use my help?

Yes we can, CMA is open 7 days a week and our volunteers come in every day. We even have early evening hours in some departments.

What do you wear when you volunteer?

Volunteers must wear a CMA volunteer shirt. The cost of your first volunteer shirt is covered in your volunteer application fee. Additional shirts are $10-$20 each depending on your department’s dress code. When you are scheduled for your first volunteer shift, the CMA dress code will be emailed to you for your review.

Can I still volunteer in an animal care department if I don’t like speaking in public?

Sea turtle volunteers must do presentations for our guests. Marine mammal volunteers are not required to do presentations, but will need to do presentations eventually if they wish to advance to the highest volunteer level in this department. If you are not comfortable with public speaking, we do have other departments that would be better suited for you.

20 hours ago

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Whale, whale, whale…what do we have here?🐋

National Geographic
Three humpback whales investigate a boat, giving passengers the show of a lifetime.
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