Working with the National Park Service has been a fantastic experience I won’t forget. During this internship experience, I was able to get first-hand experience of coastal field work projects, including sea turtle nesting, bird surveys, and marine necropsy. I also gained insightful experience from GIS and cultural resource management projects associated with the Cape Hatteras National Seashore and the Lost Colony site.
This internship provided many interesting activities and opportunities; however, my favorite project was working with sea turtle nests around the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. While waking up at 5 or 6 in the morning doesn’t sound like a fun task, the opportunity to regularly encounter sea turtle hatchlings during sunrise is definitely worth the early start. This section of my internship involved us driving across the beach around Hatteras Island, looking for sea turtle tracks and disturbances to nesting sites while performing expansions or excavations on the nesting sites.
These excavations were always the best part, where, 3 days after hatching, we would dig up the nest and count the eggshells while finding hatchling stragglers. We would usually then release the hatchlings that morning or wait until the evening and watch them crawl toward their future in the ocean.
Since the sea turtle nesting season ends in the fall, we spent the rest of our time in the field working on bird surveys and marine necropsy. While I won’t go into the specifics of our necropsy activities, I enjoyed being able to examine and pick apart large marine species that I have never been able to interact with up close. Working on bird surveys throughout this semester has slowly turned me into an avid birder. My favorite bird to encounter is the magnificent American oystercatcher.
Not only were my internship activities fun and interesting, but my mentors were too. I give special thanks to Lindsay, Michael, Kegan, and Paul, who made my internship something to look forward to throughout the week. Interning with the National Park is a perfect way to gain hands-on field work experience while learning about conservation and management efforts in beautiful locations. In my opinion, my internship was the best out of our field group.