Veterinary medicine is a career path that truly has endless possibilities, and one of those is aquatic animal medicine. This includes treating all aquatic species including fish, reptiles, and marine mammals. There are veterinarians who work for zoos and aquariums and work with all of these species. There are private practitioners who may see client-owned fish such as koi and goldfish. Other aquatic veterinarians work in the industry of aquaculture, or the farming of seafood, which is accountable for more than 50% of all seafood produced for human consumption.1 If aquatic animal medicine is a career path that you may be interested in, here are some resources that you may find useful!
International Association for Aquatic Animal Medicine (IAAAM)
You can become a member of the IAAAM. Student membership dues are $45.00 and full membership dues are $85.00. Benefits include annual conference proceedings, discounted registration for the annual conference, and access to newsletters and resources. Being an active member of these professional groups is a great way to network and meet people in the business. In my experience, exotic animal medicine, no matter the species, is a relatively small group of people so if you get yourself out there, chances are people in the profession will get to know you quickly. There are other professional memberships as well such as the American Association of Fish Veterinarians (AAFV; $25 student membership), World Aquatic Veterinary Medicine Association (WAVMA; $25 student membership), American Association of Zoo Veterinarians (AAZV; $162 student membership) and Association of Reptile and Amphibian Veterinarians (ARAV; $39.50 student membership).
This is a program with four different opportunities, including an introductory course, comparative pathology class, clinical course, and an 8-week summer fellowship all in aquatic animal medicine. The courses include lectures, wet labs, and exciting field trips. There are different locations including the United States east coast (MA, RI, etc.), and even Cancun. To get into this program, you must apply electronically. Applications are due at the beginning of the year. The program is competitive, so getting a membership to the above mentioned professional groups may be helpful. Tuition varies by course.
Island Dolphin Care
If fish isn’t your thing but marine mammals are, then this may be a course of interest to you. In beautiful Key Largo, Florida there is a course on the Introduction to Marine Mammal Medicine at Island Dolphin Care. Students taking the course get to participate in veterinary lectures and will receive hands-on experience including learning physical exam techniques, ultrasound practice, collection of diagnostic samples and more. The course takes place during winter and spring, usually during school breaks. Tuition is $1,225, and a certificate is awarded when the course is completed.
These are just a few opportunities for those interested in aquatic animal medicine. Joining any of those professional organizations, or your schools exotic/aquatic animal clubs will reveal even more opportunities for you.
1.) Source: https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/topic/aquaculture