Ocean Career: San Juan Safaris Marine Naturalist

San Juan Safaris and Outfitters is hiring Marine Naturalist positions for summer 2024. We are currently accepting applications on a rolling basis until filled beginning January 1, 2024.

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San Juan Safaris is a whale watch and wildlife tour company based in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA. Founded in 1996, San Juan Safaris provides tours focusing on respectful wildlife viewing, education, and conservation efforts. San Juan Safaris offers whale watch and wildlife tours by motorized vessel February through November. Our sister company, San Juan Island Outfitters, founded 2008, offers three- and five-hour professionally guided sea kayak tours, overnight kayak-camping excursions, in addition to whale and wildlife tours via motor vessel.

On all tours, an emphasis is always placed on safety, guest service, and respecting the environment. Our goal is to provide a personal, inspiring and educational experience to each of our guests to foster a sense of connection with the marine ecosystem. Our hope is that our guests will return home with lifelong memories and a new appreciation for the environment.


San Juan Safaris & San Juan Outfitters upholds high industry standards in professionalism, knowledge, and experience. We strive to be the leaders in our field and hope to continue to achieve this through our Marine Naturalists.

Marine Naturalists are expected to educate, inform, and monitor all passengers during our 3-4 hour tours, multiple times a day. Presenting information on whales, most notably our local populations of killer whales, as well as other local marine mammals, birds, general ecology, whale watching guidelines, as well as general information on the Pacific Northwest. We aim to provide an immersive experience, not just focusing on whales, but the connectiveness of the Salish Sea ecosystem. Education continues off the water as Naturalists are required to write blog posts detailing their experiences on the water.

Onboard Naturalists are also crew! Acting as First Mate, handling lines, working galley serving food and beverages, and monitoring safety on the vessel are all a part of our Naturalists’ primary responsibilities. For this reason, previous boat experience is preferred, but not required. Pre- and post-trip boat cleanings are also an important part of the position. Naturalists should expect to be on their feet, on a dynamic moving platform, for 5-10 hours a day.

First and foremost, this is a customer service position, and the successful applicant will be an extraordinary communicator and people person.

Major Duties:

  • Perform duties as First Mate to Captain, including familiarization with all safety procedures, both solo and in a team dynamic while alternating roles.
  • Educate and inform guests about the Salish Sea. This may include material on natural history, wildlife, general ecology, local human history, the San Juan Islands, environmental threats and changes, and current events.
  • On board photography of wildlife, with guest interactions taking priority.
  • Clean and prepare vessels pre- and post-trip. Conduct weekly boat scrubs on all vessels.
  • Responsible for continuing to learn new material about the Salish Sea Marine Ecosystem with the goal of becoming an expert.
  • Writing daily trip reports.
  • Food and beverage service in galley as well as stocking galley inventory.
  • Availability to work as needed in other positions throughout the company. I.e., reservations, food prep, and café.


  • College education preferred. A background in natural sciences including, but not limited to, marine biology, geology, cetaceans, marine mammals, general ecology, outdoor education, and ornithology is preferred.
  • Working knowledge of boats, experience working on open water, and ability to effectively work during rough seas.
  • Strong public speaking and education skills.
  • Be able to work as not only a solo naturalist, but as a team member with multiple other naturalists and crew.


  • Must have current first aid and CPR certification, including AED, Food Handlers’ card and MAST certification
  • Subject to pre-employment and random drug testing
  • Access to a working phone with voicemail
  • Non-smoker
  • Reliable transportation
  • Available weekends, evenings and holidays throughout the summer
  • Ability to comfortably lift 50 pounds
  • Ability to safely stand and move around on a dynamic moving platform for 5-10 hours a day

Location: Friday Harbor, WA


Competitive pay starting at $17 per hour, plus tips. Work in a world-class outdoor marine environment with abundant wildlife. Free whale watching and kayak tours on a "space available" basis, discounts for family and friends. Be prepared to work hard and have fun with a great group of like-minded people. Paid training and the best office view in the world!

Deadline: February 29, 2024v

Learn more about this opportunity and how to apply.

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