Volunteer Programs

Volunteer Programs

Community Service and Service-Learning

Opportunities are offered to help students fulfill academic service hour requirements and to help us fulfill our mission to educate the public about our local Southern California marine environment. 

Per City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks policy we may not provide opportunities for individuals who are court referred. Contact the Volunteer Center, South Bay/Harbor/Long Beach at 310-212-5009 for court referred assignments.

On-Going Volunteer Opportunities

Once accepted into our program, volunteers are registered with the City of Los Angeles. Registered volunteers must be 14 years and older, fingerprinted and fully vaccinated. All volunteers under 18 years of age must have parent/legal guardian permission to volunteer. Name badges are provided and t-shirts are available for purchase. Volunteers are encouraged to become a member of our support organization, Friends of Cabrillo Marine Aquarium.

Current Volunteer Opportunities

Cabrillo Marine Aquarium's Summer Docent Program is an excellent introduction to Southern California marine life. This program also develops skills in presenting information and interacting with the public, which are the foundation of informal education, as well as excellent tools to be used throughout life, no matter your career choice.

The Summer Docent Program has two sessions, based on the grade of the participant. After acceptance into the program, and attending the mandatory training week, the Docents will create educational projects and lead guided tours, summer camp classes or experiences.

Middle School Summer Docent Program June 17 to July 12, 2024

Entering Grades 7, 8 and 9 in the Fall of 2025

Training week (attendance is required): Monday 6/17 through Friday 6/21, 9am-3:00pm

High School Summer Docent Program July 15 to August 9, 2024

Entering Grades 10, 11 and 12 in the Fall of 2025

Training week (attendance is required): Monday 7/15 through Friday 7/19, 9am-12:30pm

All materials must be received by 4:00 PM Friday, April 26, 2024. Please contact CMA Volunteer Coordinator, Floyd Anderson, if you have any questions.   

Research ​volunteers start with​ an​ Interpretive Docent position to share lab activities to aquarium guests. As experience is gained​,​ volunteers may ​hold their positions or transfer to ​an Animal Husbandry position assisting​ lab staff with tank maintenance and animal husbandry. ​

A handful of these Aquatic Nursery volunteer positions are available throughout the year. As positions are vacated and become available, we can interview and fill from a waitlist. To place your name on the waitlist or to request further information, please email aquaticnursery.research@cmaqua.org.​ ​

Volunteers assist Education Staff with various activities including Sea Search programs, marine lab/classroom set-up; beach programs like Key to the Sea; Exploration Center; special tours; and providing educational and recreational programs to schools and the public. Ongoing enrichment and training is available.

 Please contact CMA Volunteer Coordinator, Floyd Anderson, if you have any questions.

Join our team of experts to provide husbandry and maintenance for our diverse collection of local SoCal marine fish, sharks, octopuses, and more! Through hands-on training, you will help care for species from our local tidepools, kelp forests, and sandy beaches.

Responsibilities include: 

  • Exhibit and animal life support maintenance, food preparation and public animal feeding demonstrations, and answering questions from the general public.

Qualifications include:

  • Time commitment of at least 4 hours per week for 6 months
  • Ability to communicate effectively with the public
  • Willingness to get wet, dirty, and handle marine animals!
  • Animal Care Volunteers are required to be 18 years and over

Application period: 

Join us on the beach! Docents provide school children with information about the ocean and conduct related activities on Cabrillo Beach. Qualifications include an affinity for the outdoors; a desire to learn about marine animals and the ocean environment; and an interest in children. Docents are asked to commit to work one morning per week April through mid-June. Volunteers in this position must be able to be on their feet for two or more hours on the beach and grass areas.

Training sessions are conducted in March of each year.  Please contact CMA Volunteer Coordinator, Floyd Anderson, if you have any questions.

Docents, "volunteer teachers," guide children on one-hour tours through the aquarium exhibit hall and give demonstrations on the beach. They provide information and conduct various activities relating to animals and plants of our local tidepools, beaches, kelp forests, islands and open ocean. Qualifications include a desire to learn about marine animals and the ocean environment and an interest in children. Following training, docents volunteer one morning a week (October-June). Volunteers in this position should be able to be on their feet for two one-hour tours each morning either in the exhibit hall (Fall/Winter) or on the beach (Spring Outdoor program).

Touring Docents complete a 12-week training class on Monday mornings. Training is offered in September each year. A fee of $30 covers training materials. Financial aid is available.  Please contact CMA Volunteer Coordinator, Floyd Anderson, if you have any questions.

Discover the Pacific gray whale and other exciting marine life off our Southern California coast, and then share your knowledge with others aboard whale watch vessels and in classrooms. If you are college age (18 or above), would like to learn about marine mammals and be willing to share your knowledge with others as a guide aboard a whale watch or by visiting schools from December 26 through the end of March, we want you!

Training classes begin on the first Tuesday of October, at 7:00 p.m. and the weekly classes continue through the end of March. The classes are approximately two hours in duration and are free. No prior experience is necessary, all training will be provided.

No reservations are needed – join us on the first Tuesday of October at 7:00 p.m. when we will dive into the details during a fun orientation. We will meet in the John M. Olguin Auditorium at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. For more information, visit www.CabrilloWhalewatch.org