Volunteer For A Day Experiences

Whether you are a visitor or resident, HMAR’s Volunteer For A Day Experiences can give you the unique opportunity to support Hawaii’s protected marine species and learn more about the work that we do.

We currently offer Ride-Along programs that are designed for anyone who wants to experience the real-life world of marine animal conservation and response. Depending on the program, these Ride-Alongs take about 2-4 hours and include an educational session with an HMAR staff member that focuses on the animals we work with, the threats they face, and other marine conservation topics. HMAR is a nonprofit organization that offers this service without charge to encourage stewardship to both visitors and residents of Hawaii. If you find this experience rewarding, we encourage donations to support our continued conservation work, and we welcome your involvement.

HMAR’s Ride-Along Program is for those who…

  • Want to experience what it’s like to work in marine conservation response.
  • Want to experience what it’s like to volunteer or work for HMAR.
  • Are visiting Oahu and want to support saving Hawaii’s protected marine animals.
  • Want to become educated on Hawaii’s marine conservation issues while in the field.
  • Are flexible, passionate, and willing to experience the real work that goes into animal response.

Ride-Along:  Seabirds

  • This experience is available from December 1st to July 1st each year. You are more likely to experience a chick from February 15th to June 30th.
  • Spans 2-4 hours
Sign Up

Ride-Along:  Sea Turtles

  • This experience is offered year-round
  • Spans 2-4 hours
Sign Up

Ride-Along:  Hawaiian Monk Seals

  • This experience is offered year-round
  • Spans 2-4 hours
Sign Up

Ride-Along:  Multi-Species

  • This experience is offered year-round
  • This experience includes a combination of other experiences based on the time of year
  • Spans 3-4 hours
Sign Up

Here are some frequently asked questions about the HMAR Ride-Along Program:

Q: Where does the HMAR Ride-Along Program occur?

A. Our Ride-Along Program takes place on the island of Oahu in the State of Hawaii.

Q. Do I need my own vehicle to participate in the HMAR Ride-Along Program?

A. No, however you will need to use personal or public transportation to get to the pick-up location where you will be met by an HMAR staff member.

Q. What age do I need to be to participate?

A. The program is open to anyone 11 years of age or older. Participants under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

Q. How many people can participate in the HMAR Ride-Along Program on any given day?

A. We can accommodate up to four people each Ride-Along day.

Q. How long does it take to participate in the Ride-Along Program?

A. Participants Ride-Along with an HMAR staff member in their HMAR response vehicle for 2-4 hours of normal HMAR field activity, depending on the experience you choose to volunteer for. At the end of the Ride-Along, participants will be dropped off at the same location where they were picked up. The minimum participation is one day (about 4 hours) but multiple days of ride-along experiences can also be scheduled.

Q. What will I see and do during an HMAR Ride-Along?

A. Participants get to see and experience the real world of marine species conservation and field response. Actual field activity varies by the day and our needs in the field, and each Ride-Along has different priorities based on the experience you choose. Please refer to our Ride-Along options to learn more about the details.

Activity could include:

  • Driving to a location where a rare and endangered Hawaiian monk seal has “hauled-out” on a beach so we can conduct important observations of the animal’s condition, document the animal’s behavior and identify the specific animal.
  • Driving to a location where Hawaii’s green sea turtles bask on shore so we can assess the animals’ condition and document their behavior.
  • Observing or assisting in a sea turtle or seabird rescue.
  • Documenting animal behaviors at an important Laysan albatross seabird colony on Oahu’s north shore.
  • Looking for a specific animal of concern that has been reported to our hotline.
  • Getting a personalized one-on-one education session from a HMAR staff member on Hawaii’s protected marine species, our ocean ecosystem and how we can all help in the preservation and conservation of these important resources.

Q. Are there any physical requirements I must meet to participate in the HMAR Ride-Along Program?

A. Yes, you should be physically fit and free of any physical or mental incapacity that would limit your ability to participate in the Ride-Along program. You must be able to walk safely on rocky and sandy coastlines, carry all of your belongings, and stand in the sun for up to three hours. We also suggest that you should not be sensitive to strong smells or have a weak stomach since we do sometimes work with deceased animals that are in varying states of decomposition.

Q. Does HMAR provide food or refreshments during the Ride-Along?

A. No, HMAR does not provide food or refreshments. Program participants should bring food or refreshments along if they wish. We strongly encourage guests to bring plenty of water as we often expect to be in hot humid conditions without shade.

Q. Do I need to bring anything with me for the Ride-Along?

A. Yes, we’ve included a list of things we suggest you bring to have the best experience.

  • Water (up to two bottles per person)
  • Hat/sunglasses
  • Reef safe sunscreen
  • Camera
  • Windbreaker, jacket, or umbrella in case of rain
  • A notebook and writing utensil if you wish to take notes
  • Closed-toed shoes are REQUIRED

Q. Do I need to sign anything to participate in the Ride-Along Program?

A. Yes, participants must sign HMAR’s standard volunteer liability waiver and indemnification agreement which also includes our social media policy. When you sign up to participate in the program, this standard form will be sent to you. We must have it signed and returned to us before your Ride-Along can take place. Mahalo for your understanding.

Q. What does it cost to participate in the HMAR Ride-Along Program?

A. Program participation is free, but if you find the experience rewarding, we welcome donations to help us to continue our work.  All donations go exclusively to HMAR’s non-profit programs and you will be provided with a receipt for your tax-deductible donation.

Q. How do I learn more or sign up to participate in the HMAR Ride-Along Program?

A. Click HERE to see full program requirements and to sign up.