Learn more about our programs.

As part of the HMAR team, you can focus your efforts on one or more of our programs. Each program has different volunteer activities, minimum requirements, physical demands, and helps to achieve our mission in a unique way. Once you’ve explored our program choices, submit an application for a volunteer position or internship. You can do so by visiting our Join Our Team page.

The general volunteer requirements that apply to all HMAR programs include:

  • Volunteers should have an interest and a desire to engage with the public.
  • You must be at least 18 years old.
  • You must be a U.S. citizen.
  • You must be physically fit. Many of HMAR’s programs involve physical activity that may occur in hot, windy, rainy or other challenging conditions.
  • Volunteers need to possess a team-based work ethic and attitude.
  • If required, you may be asked to provide a background check.
  • Communication is critical for volunteers. You will need a smartphone with 4G data service and camera.
  • You will be asked to complete reports of the activities you performed in an accurate and timely manner.

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In addition to the general volunteer requirements above, each of our programs has additional requirements and things to know.

Our Field Support & Outreach (FSO) Program conducts marine protected animal and habitat monitoring, collects critical field data for research and conducts face-to-face public outreach along shorelines. We share information with beach goers about marine protected species to inspire stewardship, and gather information to help monitor population and habitat health.What activities will you perform as a FSO program volunteer?

  • Respond in the field to reports of Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles and seabirds.
  • Make a general assessment of the animal’s condition, identify the individual animal (for monk seals) and obtain photographs.
  • Identify potential animal health concerns.
  • Perform public outreach at locations where monk seals, sea turtles and seabirds may be on the shoreline in the vicinity of humans.
  • Perform directed surveys to find specific animals of interest or concern.
  • When appropriate, establish perimeters around monk seals to decrease interactions.
  • Be on call and ready to perform ALL of these activities during your volunteer shifts.

Additional volunteer requirements:

  • Volunteers must meet all of the general HMAR volunteer requirements listed above.
  • Ability to walk in sandy, rocky and unstable shoreline conditions for 2 miles.
  • Ability to lift and carry a minimum of 35 pounds for 100 feet in beach and rocky conditions.
  • Ability to conduct outdoor activity during hot, rainy or windy conditions.
  • Able and willing to work on your feet in these conditions for a minimum of 4 continuous hours.
  • Ability to maintain a calm demeanor in potentially stressful conditions.
  • Access to a reliable car. Motorcycles or scooters will not be sufficient.
  • Possess a valid driver’s license and vehicle insurance with minimum Hawaii liability coverage.
  • Possess a digital camera (a smartphone is not sufficient) with at least a 35X zoom. The digital camera must have the ability to upload photos taken to your smartphone so they may be emailed from the field in real time. This can be accomplished using WiFi, Bluetooth or through the use of a data card upload cable.
  • Possess a set of binoculars with at least 10X magnification. (Highly recommended but not required).

Minimum volunteer activity:

  • Volunteers on this team commit to a minimum of 2 four-hour activity sessions each month.
  • Volunteers that maintain an activity level of at least 4 four-hour activity sessions each month receive additional benefits.
  • Minimum activity requirement is 1 year.
  • Only applicants agreeing to the minimum activity commitment will be accepted for this assignment.

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Our Dispatch & Reporting (D&R) Program manages our hotlines that receive thousands of calls every year from the public and government agencies to ensure we can mount the most appropriate field action needed. This program records and shares data obtained in the field with government research and species management partners to help conservation and recovery efforts.

What activities will you be asked to do as a D&R volunteer?

  • Take phone calls and email submissions of protected marine species sightings and animals in distress from the public, government agencies and staff/volunteers.
  • Coordinate as needed with law enforcement and/or other government agencies in escalated situations.
  • Complete computerized dispatch reports and contact appropriate personnel for field response.
  • Enter field data into reports.
  • Update internal social media streams.
  • Update and create activity reports.
  • Maintain the minimum activity level for this program, which is 1 shift per week (see below).

Additional volunteer requirements:

  • Volunteers must meet all of the general HMAR volunteer requirements listed above.
  • Must be able to perform more than one important activity at the same time.
  • Ability to maintain a calm demeanor in potentially stressful conditions.
  • Access to a reliable computer, phone and Internet service.
  • Access to a work location with minimal background noise.
  • Experience with computer applications such as Microsoft Excel and Google Docs.

Volunteer activity requirements:

  • Volunteers on this team commit to a minimum of at least 1 four-hour activity session each week. Volunteers that maintain an activity level of at least 8 hours each week receive additional benefits.
  • Minimum activity requirement is 1 year.
    Only applicants agreeing to the minimum activity commitment will be accepted for this assignment.


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Learn more about our education programs on our Education Page.

Our Education & Engagement (E&E) Program visits community events, classrooms, and local businesses to connect our communities and inspire stewardship for Hawaii’s marine life and our shared ocean. Through building curriculum, developing virtual lessons, conducting in-person lessons, educating local companies in our community, and a variety of other initiatives, HMAR seeks to build educational awareness for our ocean and the marine protected species that call it home.

What activities will you be asked to do as a EE volunteer?

  • Conduct presentations and education activity at public locations and events.
  • Conduct presentations and education activity at public and private schools.
  • Assist in the creation and curation of educational resource materials.
  • Conduct training sessions with commercial operators and other businesses.

Additional volunteer requirements:

  • Volunteers must meet all of the general HMAR volunteer requirements listed above.
  • Must be comfortable speaking in front of a group of people.
  • Must be able and willing to work on your feet for a minimum of 2 hours.
  • Access to a reliable vehicle is required.
  • Possess a valid driver’s license and vehicle insurance with Hawaii minimum liability coverage.
  • Experience with computer applications such as Microsoft PowerPoint, Google Docs and similar programs.


Volunteer activity requirements:

  • Volunteers on this team commit to a minimum of at least 1 four-hour activity sessions each month. Volunteers that maintain an activity level of at least 4 four-hour activity sessions each month receive additional benefits.
  • Minimum activity requirement is 6 months.
  • Only applicants agreeing to the minimum activity commitment will be accepted for this assignment.

Our Rescue and Stranding Response (R&SR) Program helps animals in distress to assess, disentangle, de-hook, transport for care, release into the wild, and facilitate scientific research to gain more insight on threats and improve species management plans.

What activities will you be asked to do as a R&SR volunteer?:

  • Have access to the required type of vehicle (see below).
  • Respond in the field to reports of live or dead Hawaiian monk seals, sea turtles, seabirds, dolphins or whales.
  • Assist with or perform animal assessments, disentanglement, recovery, stranding response or other intervention activity.
  • Conduct surveys for protected marine animals in nearshore waters or on offshore islets.
  • Assist in natural disasters or environmental incidents affecting animal health.
  • Transport live or dead seals, seabirds, sea turtles, dolphins, and small whales.
  • While performing the above activities, conduct outreach to the public.
  • Be on call and ready to perform ALL of these activities during your volunteer shifts.
  • Maintain the minimum activity requirements for this program, which is 1 shift per week lasting 6 hours.

Vehicle requirements:
To be a member of the Rescue and Stranding Response team you must have access to one of the following vehicles during your scheduled field activity shifts:

  • Ford Ranger, 150, 250, 350 or 450 truck
  • Toyota Tacoma or Tundra truck
  • Chevrolet Colorado or Silverado truck
  • Dodge Ram 1500, 2500 or 3500 truck
  • GMC Sierra or Canyon truck
  • Nissan Frontier or Titan truck
  • Honda Ridgeline truck
  • Ford Freestyle or Transit van
  • Dodge Ram ProMaster van
  • Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van
  • GMC Savana van
  • Nissan NV van

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Members of our team involved in our Marine Debris Program (MDP) dive the near-shore coastal waters of Oahu to remove hazardous threats to marine animals and proactively minimize impacts to marine life.

What activities will you be asked to do as a MDP volunteer?

  • Assist in maintaining marine debris collection bins.
  • Perform outreach to members of the public.
  • If qualified, assist in nearshore (snorkel) underwater marine debris surveys and collection.
  • If qualified, properly certified and insured, assist in SCUBA underwater marine debris surveys and collection (see below for SCUBA requirements).
  • Be on call to perform these activities during your volunteer shifts.


Additional volunteer requirements:

  • Volunteers must meet all of the general HMAR volunteer requirements listed above.
  • Ability to walk in sandy, rocky and unstable shoreline conditions for 1 mile.
  • Demonstrate the ability to lift and carry a minimum of 70 pounds for 100 feet in beach and rocky conditions.
  • Ability to conduct outdoor activity during hot, rainy or windy conditions. You must be able and willing to work on your feet in these conditions for a minimum of 4 continuous hours.
    Ability to maintain a calm demeanor in potentially stressful conditions.
  • Access to a reliable vehicle.
  • Volunteers must be willing to carry marine debris in their vehicle for transport to collection sites.
  • Possess a valid driver’s license and vehicle insurance with minimum Hawaii liability coverage.

For program participants wishing to perform nearshore (snorkel) underwater activity, the following additional requirements apply:

  • Ability to swim required
  • Prior snorkeling experience
  • Participants must provide their own snorkeling equipment
  • Able to demonstrate satisfactory swimming and snorkeling competence

For program participants wishing to perform SCUBA underwater activity, the following additional requirements apply:

  • Ability to swim required
  • Prior SCUBA experience
  • Participants must provide their own SCUBA equipment
  • Able to demonstrate satisfactory swimming, snorkeling and SCUBA competence
  • Rescue Diver certification or above from a nationally recognized accreditation body
  • Current DAN insurance at the “Preferred” level
  • First aid, CPR, AED and lifeguard certifications desired within first 12 months of program participation
  • Open ocean small boat operations experience desired

Volunteer activity requirements:

  • Volunteers on this team commit to a minimum of 2 four-hour activity sessions each month.
  • Volunteers that maintain an activity level of at least 4 four-hour activity sessions each month receive additional benefits.
  • Minimum activity requirement is 1 year.
  • Only applicants agreeing to the minimum activity commitment will be accepted for this assignment.

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Our Marine Operations Program (MOP) utilizes HMAR-owned and other vessels for on-water operations such as marine protected animal rescues, stranding responses, assessments, debris removal, and trainings. Volunteer opportunities for the MOP are on an invitation basis only and are only open to volunteers in good standing in our Rescue & Stranding Response (R&SR) Program.

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