Cabrillo Marine Aquarium

Volunteer Opportunity Descriptions


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 for two school years (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.

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.

Volunteers act as public greeters at the Information Booth assisting staff one afternoon per week, 1 - 4 pm. Volunteers may provide demonstration activities such as touch tank programs. Training is on-the-job.

JUNIOR & SENIOR HIGH SUMMER DOCENT PROGRAM (separate application required)
Students entering grades 7-12 in the fall may participate in CMA's summer docent programs. In addition to mandatory training and service, optional field trips and wrap-up parties are offered.

Summer Exhibit Hall Docent Program
One week of mandatory training is followed by four weeks of service, one or two mornings a week, providing one hour tours, talks and demonstrations in the CMA exhibit hall during a four-week period. Training and activities relating to Southern California tidepools, beaches, kelp forest, islands, open ocean and touring techniques are included. Two sessions are offered: Junior High (grades 7-9) and Senior High (grades 10-12).

A maximum of 60 students will be accepted into each session. Cost of the program is $300 (includes name badge, shirt and field trips). Financial aid is available.

Summer Aquatic Nursery Docent Program 
Two weeks of mandatory training is followed by 8 weeks of service, one or two mornings a week, providing tours in the Aquatic Nursery with lab activities and baby animal displays in the Science Hatchery education program.

A maximum of 16 students will be accepted into this program. Cost of the program is $350 (includes name badge, shirt, field trips). Financial aid is available.

How to Apply
Applications for the Summer Docent Program can be downloaded by clicking the link below, requested from our Volunteer Coordinator or you may pick one up at the CMA Information Booth.



Sponsored by Cabrillo Marine Aquarium and the American Cetacean Society-Los Angeles Chapter. Volunteers (college age and up) are trained as naturalists to narrate whale watching trips on boats that depart from local landings December 26 through March observing gray whales, dolphins, sea lions and birds. Naturalists also give presentations in classrooms.

Registration begins the first Tuesday in October each year. You may register at the first three meetings. Training sessions start the first Tuesday and continue every Tuesday through March, from 7 - 9 pm and are held in the Aquarium's John M. Olguin Auditorium.

COASTAL PARK NATURALIST (grades 5 through adult)
Coastal Park Naturalists provide interpretation and monitoring of the Cabrillo Beach Coastal Park habitats including the salt marsh (Salinas de San Pedro), Point Fermin Marine Life Refuge tidepools, inner harbor and outer Cabrillo Beach and fishing pier.

Training sessions take place quarterly. Training is four Thursday afternoons (4-6pm) with service opportunities offered on weekends. Parent/Guardian is required to attend the first session for orientation. One weekend day a month is requested.

Want to sign up? Please check our calendar for the next training or call 310-548-7562.

A fee of $30 is charged for uniform/materials. Financial aid is available.
EDUCATION VOLUNTEER (16 years and older)
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.

AQUATIC NURSERY/JELLY LAB HUSBANDRY, DOCENTS, RESEARCH (adults and youth 14 years and older)
Research v​olunteers 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 assist​ing​ 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​

Volunteer position to assist staff with feeding of live animal collection. Duties include: food preparation, feeding of animal collection, observation of animal feeding habits and answering questions from the general public.

Aquarist Assistant
Volunteers assist aquarists with routine tasks such as cleaning tanks, monitoring water conditions, etc.  Previous experience with saltwater aquariums is desirable.

Training is on-the-job.

Gift Shop Volunteer (adults and youth 16 years and older)
Volunteers assist gift shop manager in daily operations - affixing price labels to merchandise, stocking shelves with merchandise and running the cash register.

Committees (adults)
Volunteers serve on various committees supporting the work of FCMA in Membership, Development and Grand Grunion Gala.

OFFICE/CLERICAL (adults and youth)
Volunteers assist office staff with various clerical duties: Special mailings, filing, data entry, etc. Hours are flexible depending upon project needs.

ONE-DAY ACTIVITIES (14 years and older)
Individuals and groups are welcome to help out at various events throughout the year. Please call ahead to schedule yourself or your group to help out.

Native Garden Workday/Beach Clean Up – the first Saturday of each month, 10 - 12pm. Join the education staff and other volunteers in maintaining the Cabrillo Coastal Native Plant Garden with weeding and planting while you learn more about coastal sage scrub and its plant and animal inhabitants and join others in a beach cleanup. Outdoor clothing and sneakers advised.  Bring gardening gloves, if you have them. Each participant will receive an orientation slide show and then work with CMA staff in a targeted area. Meet by the auditorium.

How to Register
Individuals, groups and service-learning students are required to make reservations by the Thursday of the week of the activity. Registration is done Monday through Thursday by phone only call 310-548-7562. Please leave your name, phone number, email address and the name of your school or service group and number of participants.