[MARMAM] Field assistant opportunity: dolphin research in New Zealand, September 2011-April 2012

Meissner, Anna A.M.Meissner at massey.ac.nz
Thu Jul 7 14:00:55 PDT 2011


Positions are open for volunteers to assist with bottlenose and common dolphin field surveys in the East Coast Bay of Plenty, New Zealand.



Growing interest in observing and swimming with free-ranging cetaceans has contributed to a rapid growth of dolphin-based tourism operations. The present study aims to assess the effects of interacting activities on common and bottlenose dolphin behaviour within the East Coast Bay of Plenty waters.


DATES: September 2011-April 2012


LOCATION: Tauranga, East Coast Bay of Plenty, New Zealand



A dedicated scientific team will be studying the behaviour and distribution of bottlenose and common dolphins in the Bay of Plenty. You can join our crew to learn environmental and behavioural data collection for cetaceans, help with photographic data collection and get basic marine navigation skills. Assistants are also expected to participate in data entry and database/catalogue maintenance duties.

Surveys are conducted from a 5.5m research boat and from tourism boats. Surveys are carried out in the coastal waters of the East Coast Bay of Plenty, starting from Tauranga.

Fieldwork is weather dependent and can vary between weekdays and weekends. Assistants need to be available full-time including weekends and be prepared to work long hours with early starts.

Field work is physically and at times mentally demanding but it is a great opportunity to gain knowledge in visual cetacean surveying, to get hands-on field experience in relation to survey techniques, photo-identification, behavioural observations, and improve practical skills (GIS, data analysis, photo-ID).



·         Be reliable, adaptable, hardworking and patient as fieldwork is highly weather dependent. This means office based work during bad weather and long consecutive days in the field when weather permits.

·         Be prepared to work long days with early start in a small vessel.

·         Be sociable, enthusiastic and have a positive attitude.



·         The project is well suited to upper level undergrads, recent grads and graduate students who have some background in Biology, Marine Biology, Ecology, Zoology or related field

·         Basic computer proficiency in Microsoft Office (especially Excel and Access) + ArcGIS is required

·         Previous experience in survey techniques, and especially in marine mammal research is preferred but not required

·         Participants must be able to swim and should be comfortable working on boats

·         Boat operation experience is preferred but not required

·         Participants must be able to live and work well within a team of 3-6 people for extended periods of time.

Due to the training required, applicants should be available for a minimum of 2 months, however all applicants will be considered.


This is a volunteer position, so there is unfortunately no monetary compensation or living provisions. However, help will be provided to find accommodation. Assistants will be responsible for travel to Tauranga and their own living expenses. Pick up from Auckland may be possible but will be dependent on arrival time.


Applicants should email a letter of interest outlining relevant experience and motivation for participation, as well as a CV and the contacts for referees to Anna Meissner a.m.meissner at massey.ac.nz



Thank you!


Cheers, Anna

Anna M. Meissner
PhD student
Coastal-Marine Research Group
Institute of Natural Sciences
Massey University
Private Bag 102 904
North Shore City, 0745
Auckland, New Zealand

Tel: +64 9 414 0800 ext 41520
Cell: +64 22 603 6646
Fax: +64 9 443 9790

Email: a.m.meissner at massey.ac.nz
Web: http://cmrg.massey.ac.nz

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