[MARMAM] Volunteers requested for Australian humpback whale project

Ann Allen anallen at whoi.edu
Tue Jun 28 13:39:47 PDT 2011

Project: A playback study to determine if humpback whales are utilizing 
active or passive acoustic cues for orientation during migration.

Position: Unpaid volunteer

Dates: 3 August-4 September, 2011

Location: Point Lookout, North Stradbroke Island, Queensland, Australia

Project Summary:
We are conducting an experimental study of humpback whale orientation 
mechanisms at Point Lookout on North Stradbroke Island near Brisbane, 
Australia.  Humpback whales pass very close to shore at this location 
during their northern migration from Antarctica to the Great Barrier 
Reef.  We will conduct playbacks of several different sound stimuli in 
order to determine if the whales are utilizing active or passive 
acoustic cues to orient themselves in the marine environment during 
migration.  Playbacks will be conducted from a small vessel.  The whales 
will be monitored from shore during playbacks for changes in course or 

Volunteers are needed to conduct land-based visual observations of the 
study whales from a cliff site overlooking the playback location. 
Volunteers will assist in selecting appropriate whale groups for the 
experiment.  Utilizing a surveyor’s theodolite they will monitor the 
location and behavior of each surfacing of the whale group for the 
duration of each playback.  Participants will rotate duties between 
visual observations utilizing binoculars, tracking of whales utilizing a 
theodolite and monitoring sighting locations and behaviors on a laptop. 
  There will opportunities for volunteers to participate in boat work 
and aid in conducting playbacks.  Volunteers will be expected to 
participate in full days of observations with rotation of 
responsibilities and breaks between playback groups.  There will usually 
be one or more days off per week due to bad weather.

Qualifications: The project is well suited to upper level undergrads, 
recent grads and graduate students who have some background in science. 
  Participants should be keen to gain experience in cetacean survey 
techniques and playback experiments.  While previous experience in 
survey techniques is desired, it is not required.  The main criteria for 
applicants are an interest in cetacean surveys and an ability to 
concentrate for several hours at a time while working in a small group. 
  Due to the training required, applicants should be available for the 
entire project time period.  Volunteers will need to provide their own 
transportation to the study site (accessible by public transportation 
from Brisbane international airport).  However, once they have arrived 
at the study site all food and accommodation will be provided for the 
duration of the project.  Participants must be able to live and work 
well with a small group of people (6-9) for extended periods of time. 
Cooking and cleaning duties will be shared and meals will be communal.

Applicants should email a letter of interest outlining relevant 
experience and motivation for participation, as well as a CV and the 
contact details of two professional references to Ann Allen at 
anallen at whoi.edu.  Applications will be accepted until all volunteer 
positions are filled.

This project is funded by the National Geographic Committee for Research 
and Exploration and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

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