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Marine Veterinary Colleges and Schools in the U.S.

Marine veterinarians specialize in the treatment of aquatic creatures, such as whales, sea turtles and fish. Some of these veterinarians work at aquariums and zoos. Veterinarians and veterinary students can find aquatic animal education programs at universities, vet schools, nonprofit organizations and the military.

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How to Select a Program for a Marine Veterinarian Career

Licensed veterinarians and veterinary students wishing to specialize in aquatic animal health care can find certificate programs and workshops in the aquatic animal field or apply for a marine internship or residency program.

Considerations for Choosing a Program

  • Length of program
  • Level of experience
  • Area of focus

Length of Program

Internships, externships and workshops are generally shorter in duration than residencies, which can last up to three years. Veterinary students often apply to these programs during their third or fourth year of vet school so that they have a solid understanding of veterinary medicine.

Level of Experience

Workshops and externships are open to students and licensed veterinarians, while internships and residencies are typically post-DVM programs. Residents and interns help treat various marine animals, keep records and participate in post-mortem exams. Aspiring marine veterinarians hoping to seek employment at zoos or aquariums should look for programs that offer research and publishing opportunities.

There are limited internship and residency programs in the marine veterinary field. As a result, these programs have limited enrollment, are highly selective and usually give preference to applicants with the most experience. Prospective students should gain as much clinical experience as possible through volunteer opportunities, internships and research assistantships before applying for a program.

Area of Focus

Certificate and workshop education programs are intended to provide practicing veterinarians and veterinary students with a deeper understanding of aquatic species, including marine mammals and birds, reptiles and fish. Internships and residencies are basically a combination of learning and employment, so the area of focus is often more narrow.

Aquatic Animal Program Overviews

Certificate Programs and Workshops

Certificate programs and workshops are available for veterinary students along with working professionals. Programs vary in length and cover topics such as the following:

  • Diseases in warm water fish
  • Conservation
  • Sea vet clinical training
  • Topics in aquatic animal health

Internships and Residencies

Internships are commonly available to those with a DVM degree, but some are open to 4th-year veterinary students. Internships tend to be shorter than residencies and can last between 4-6 weeks. Veterinary residency programs can last up to three years and are intended for individuals who have completed veterinary school. Opportunities are available through the U.S. military, veterinary schools, nonprofits and veterinary hospitals. Areas of focus vary depending upon the organization. Some of the duties of an intern might include:

  • Overseeing nutrition and sanitation
  • Helping with staff development regarding animal care
  • Comprehensive health assessments
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