The Center for Coastal Studies is always interested in welcoming people who would like to lend their time and talents to our mission. Volunteering is a great way to use your experience and interests to make friends while making a genuine and vital contribution to an organization that means something to you.

As a volunteer, you give twice: the priceless gift of your valuable time coupled with the gift of your valuable skills. In return, our goal is to ensure you receive the rewards of in-depth learning opportunities in marine science… satisfaction in knowing that you are contributing to the health of the marine environment…and the pleasure of making new friends.

All volunteers receive a CCS ball cap as a thank-you gift for your time and commitment.We strongly encourage our volunteers to become supporting members of the Center.

Please peruse the opportunities shown below; if you do not find what you are looking for, give us a call and create your own job!


Hands On Sea Critters in Our Lab!

Spaghetti worm

This opportunity is for anyone who would like to contribute to greater marine ecosystem knowledge and enjoys communal but individually focused lab work.  No specialized education is required, you will receive training!  Preferred commitment is 2-3 hours per week in our lab in Provincetown.

Our benthic habitat mapping project includes taking biological samples, which are now ready to be identified in the lab.  These samples have been taken from Herring Cove in Provincetown (Cape Cod National Seashore).

The samples are taken from bottom sediment, pre-sorted (flushing out the mud, large cobbles, etc.) on the boat, and preserved in a mix of ethanol and rose bengal (which stains proteins pink).

Under the direction of Project Leader Agnes Mittermayr, you will pick through the samples, which involves transferring scoops of sediment onto big white trays and picking out anything pink and animal-like. Volunteers will pre-ID the animals into categories like worms, amphipods, and mussels, after which they are put in ethanol to preserve them. Once the picking is over, Agnes will begin the identification process of each and every individual.

Specific ID involves knowledge of biology and anatomy of animals and requires hours and hours of training. If a volunteer wishes to invest more time in this project than your initial sorting will take, Agnes can train you to ID a single group of animals (like shellfish).

Once all the ID’s are in we not only know exactly which species and how many individuals of each species we have living in the sediments along the Cape, we also can develop maps with biodiversity hot spots (among other things). This information will be fed into CMECS (the Coastal and Marine Ecological Classification Standard), which is a nationwide/federal tool to classify marine ecosystems. The information will help the Cape Cod National Seashore and the Cape’s towns in developing and implementing a management plan.

Invertebrates are an essential part of the marine ecosystem, comprising part of the base of the food web and vital support for the biodiversity in Cape waters.

Cape Cod Bay Monitoring Program “Citizen Scientists”
At present we are nearly fully staffed with volunteers for all our stations but if you have an interest in water quality sampling, please contact the Center anyway. There are many stations and it is always possible that one might open up.  It’s great to know there are people interested!  We conduct regular water quality sampling at stations that rim the entire perimeter of Cape Cod Bay.  Volunteers are asked to sample at their designated site on a weekly basis from May through October. Training and equipment provided.  (This can be a very rewarding and peaceful pursuit – many of our water quality citizen scientists have been part of the team for 8-10 years!).  Right now we are looking for someone to take over our sampling at Cole Brook Road in Eastham for the coming 2018 and future seasons.  Read more about this program here.

Humpback Research Program
Seeking individuals to scan documents and to assist with data processing and computer data entry. We provide training but computer skills are required.  Click here to read about the Center’s Humpback Whale Studies Program.

Marine Fisheries Research
Seeking an individual to assist in collecting fisheries landings data and squid egg samples as part of a collaborative research project, working with fishermen in Chatham, MA to study environmental effects on squid distribution and embryonic development. Duties may include working with fishermen at the dock to record daily landings data in logbooks, collecting and transporting squid egg samples from Chatham to the CCS lab in Provincetown. Microscopic examination and photography of live eggs and paralarvae, and data entry. No sea time required, sheltered location provided for dockside data/sample collection. Qualifications: one or more years of undergraduate education in biology or a related field, willingness to work around busy commercial fisheries offloading/packing operations, flexible schedule, and computer skills (MS Excel, digital camera software). Project runs from April-September, minimum commitment of two 4-hour days/week.


Help bring the story of Spinnaker to Life:  Become a Docent for CCS

Docents are volunteer guides who work for museums or parks, interpreting their artifacts, exhibits or natural wonders to visitors.

Now the Center for Coastal Studies’ Hiebert Marine Lab has become the permanent home to the skeleton of the humpback whale known to researchers as Spinnaker, where she will become part of ongoing research into the biology of whales and entanglement prevention.

We are looking for individuals who are passionate about marine life and conservation to serve as docents for members of the public who come to visit the Center to view Spinnaker’s skeleton and to tell her life story, which includes three disentanglements by our own Marine Animal Entanglement Response team.

While you do not need to have a degree in the sciences to apply, we do expect our docents to become integral members of our outreach and education team, committing to a serious grasp and interpretation of Spinnaker’s life history, to learn the basics of whale biology and ecology, and to become familiar with the Center’s various research programs.  You should also enjoy working with the public and never be afraid to ask questions—or to say you don’t know!

We hope to fill as many four-hour shifts as possible. Staff supervision and training will be provided.

For the coming 2018 season, we will be open on Saturdays in June and September; and Sundays in July and August, so be sure to let us know if you prefer working weekends!

Share Your Love of the Oceans with the Public!

Work as a public outreach representative, helping to operate our public educational and retail kiosk on MacMillan Pier opposite the CCS dock where our research and rescue vessels are located.  You will welcome visitors, increasing public awareness of CCS marine research and conservation work. You will also recruit new members and sell CCS merchandise. Must enjoy working with the public, become familiar with our various research projects, and have enough energy to spend several hours at a time outside in summer.

Former kiosk manager Beth Larson in 2014 with special CCS guest Jean Michel Cousteau. You never know who’s going to be visiting!

Available shifts reflect whale watching schedule weekends from April to Memorial Day; seven days June, July, August.  Reduced schedule in the fall through October.  Training and review sessions provided.

Communications Assistant
Maintain media files and press clippings. Event assistance and and light filing. Computer skills are required. High school seniors and individuals interested in communications, media relations and public relations are encouraged to apply.

For applications and for further information please contact:

Jan Young, Volunteers & Outreach
Center for Coastal Studies
Provincetown, MA 02657
508-487-3622, ext. 104

A message to potential volunteers under the age of 18: While we love to encourage young people to become involved in marine science, conservation and education, our limited staff and resources prevent us at this time from being able to coordinate a formal volunteer program for minors. However, we are happy to consider requests on a case by case basis.

This page updated February 20, 2018