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Marine Veterinary Medicine

veterinarian holding sea turtle with gloved hands for rehabilitation

MARVET Cayman - Marine Conservation Medicine Externship

MARVET Cayman offers veterinary students, veterinarians and allied groups an introductory lecture and hands-on workshop in the emerging professional field of Marine Conservation Medicine with focus on veterinary care of sea turtles, dolphins and marine fish; the course also explores coral reef and mangrove ecosystems.

DATE: July 18 - 28, 2022
TUITION: $2100
HOSTED BY: St. Matthew’s University School of Veterinary Medicine in Grand Cayman

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Lectures will address:

  • Contemporary concepts in marine conservation medicine, including anatomy and physiology of marine species (mammals, reptiles, fish)
  • Emerging issues in marine mammal, sea turtle, and marine fish conservation, as well as marine wildlife ecotoxicology, diagnostic surveillance, morbidity and mortality assessments
  • Coral reef ecosystem biology
  • Mangrove ecosystem biology
  • Wildlife law
  • Aquaculture water quality
  • Marine wildlife medicine career opportunities for veterinarians

Hands-on Activities

Under the direction of veterinarians and biologists active in marine medicine and conservation, students will participate in diagnostic wetlabs at SMU, the Cayman Turtle Farm, and Dolphin Discovery with an emphasis on the following procedures:

  • Physical examination
  • Hematology
  • Necropsy techniques
  • Marine quarantine strategies
microchipping a green sea turtle in Caymans

Hands-on applications in marine animal facilities

Orbicella coral in Caymans

Orbicella coral in the Caymans

Field Activities

Field activities will orient students toward marine ecosystem health through exposure to mangrove forest and coral reef systems.

  • Mangrove forest kayaking
  • Coral reef snorkeling

Site Visit to Blue Iguana Habitat

A site visit will also be made to the Blue Iguana Habitat to investigate this rare species and the conservation strategies being employed to preserve it.

blue iguana in Blue Iguana Habitat in Caymans

Blue Iguana - Endangered species native to Grand Cayman

Externship Participants

The MARVET Cayman externship is an introductory workshop in marine animal medicine designed for students who wish to explore career possibilities in clinical and conservation medicine through an interactive learning format that provides a broad overview of the conservation medicine field.

  • Previous experience in marine animal medicine is not required or expected.
  • While most participants are veterinary students, veterinarians, veterinary technicians, biology and ecology students and others seeking an introduction to the field of marine conservation medicine are also welcome to apply.
  • The course is not intended for those who already have extensive experience in this field.

Read More About Participant Requirements

MARVET Cayman - Enrich Your Knowledge With Hands-On Experiences

Spotted Eagle Ray

Spotted Eagle Ray gliding effortlessly through warm waters

rehabilitation of green sea turtle

Rehabilitation of green sea turtle

Former participants speak . . .

“MARVET Cayman was the highlight of my summer. Dr. Shields coordinated an amazing program that not only enabled us to learn from some of the biggest names in aquatic medicine but also coordinated hands-on laboratories and activities that helped to bring the information all together. The information presented in lectures and labs was informative and interesting and covered a wide range of topics from invertebrates to marine mammals. The students at St. Matthew's went out of their way to make us feel welcome and the facilities and living arrangements were excellent. MARVET Cayman also enabled me to meet life-long friends and mentors, and I am grateful to have had the incredible experience!”

Alex Mason, DVM
2019 graduate of the University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine

“After my first year of vet school, I chose to attend MARVET Cayman, a two-week course focused on Aquatic Animal Medicine in the Cayman Islands to blend my love for marine biology and veterinary medicine. This experience immeasurably affected me and gave me the resources to further pursue my passion. I enthusiastically soaked up lectures about anatomy and physiology of marine species, wildlife ecotoxicology, aquaculture, coral reef restoration, sea turtle rehabilitation, and so much more. I was also fortunate enough to spend time with world-renowned aquatic animal veterinarians, conservationists, and researchers and learn from them in a small classroom setting with plenty of opportunities to socialize after class. MARVET gave me the opportunity to learn about the aquatic animal veterinarian's role in so many different aspects of veterinary science; from pathology, rehabilitation, water quality assessment, to preventative care and research. I also gained incredible friends from other vet schools whom I can collaborate with and support in starting our careers in this field. This was one of the most amazing experiences and I encourage anyone interested in aquatic animal medicine to go on a MARVET trip (especially under the supervision and management of Dr. Samantha Shields!).”

Celia Megdal, DVM
2020 graduate of the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine

Instructor testimonials . . .

“I have been involved with the Cayman MARVET course from the beginning. It has been an amazing experience to interact with these talented individuals and to see many of them successfully continue their careers in aquatic medicine. Having had the opportunity to participate in the course definitely helped them explore a wide variety of options and has provided them with life-long aquatic colleague contact.”

Ilze K. Berzins, PhD, DVM, MPH
One Water, One Health LLC

“Teaching veterinarians and veterinary students about aquatic animal ecology, medicine and pathology on Grand Cayman Island has been an incredible journey. Having been with the program since 2008, I have seen it grow into an even more amazing training course each year. With St. Matthew’s University as our host and the beautiful island as our backdrop - the experience for students AND faculty continues to be enriching and rewarding.”

Dr. Cindy P. Driscoll
State Fish & Wildlife Veterinarian
Fish & Wildlife Health Program
Department of Natural Resources