[MARMAM] Volunteer opportunity in South Africa

Katja Vinding Petersen katjavp at gmail.com
Sun Dec 23 07:46:00 PST 2012

 *Volunteer field assistant opportunity: **Research of cetaceans in South


This PhD project aims to obtain baseline information on fine-scale
movement, individual behaviour, and habitat use of cetaceans in the Greater
Dyer Island area, Western Cape, South Africa. The main techniques used are
theodolite tracking, passive acoustic monitoring, and photo-id of the
cetaceans. The focus species are; Southern right whale  (*Eubalaena
australis*), Indo Pacific humpback dolphin (*Sousa chinensis*),
Humpback whales (*Megaptera novaeangliae*), Bryde’s whales (*
Balaenoptera brydei*) and Indo Pacific bottlenose dolphins (*
Tursiops aduncus*).

The PhD project is run under the auspices of the Mammal Research Institute
(MRI) of University of Pretoria.

*WHERE: *Kleinbaai, Western Cape, South Africa

*WHEN:* 1st of January until the end of December 2013


You will primarily be part of the theodolite tracking team. Surveys are
conducted using a Total station and binoculars. Surveys are conducted from
observation towers along the coastline. You will assist with the data
recording, scanning the area using binoculars, and entering data in the
evenings or during bad weather days.

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

On theodolite tracking days the team may leave before sunrise and return
after sunset – spending the whole day tracking.

Fieldwork is intense and demanding, but very rewarding. You will obtain
hands-on field experience and knowledge in environmental and behavioural
data collection of cetaceans, as well as photo-identification techniques.

*Passive Acoustic Monitoring is scheduled to commence in 2013, but final
deployment of equipment depends on available funding. Volunteers will be
able to participate during sound recording and analysis, but the main focus
of the volunteers is theodolite tracking. *

Max. 3 volunteers will be accepted at the time.

* *

*EXPECTATIONS, volunteers are expected to:*

·      Be reliable, adaptable, hard working 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.

·      NOT be afraid of heights. Some of the tracking will be done from the
top of a water tower and getting there involves secured climbing on high
open ladders.

·      Physically in good shape.

·      Have excellent eyesight.

·      Be prepared to work long days with start before sunrise and end
after sunset.

·      Be sociable, enthusiastic and have a positive attitude.

·      Participate for minimum 1 month.


·      Upper level undergrads and graduate students who have interest and
background in Biology, Marine Biology, Ecology, Zoology or related field -
is preferred.

·      Basic computer proficiency in Microsoft Office (especially Excel and

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

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

Due to the training required, applicants should be available for a minimum
of 1 month.


Volunteers are expected to cover their own living expenses, including
flight costs. Help will be provided to find accommodation in Kleinbaai.
Expected accommodation cost is between ZAR 1300-2500 per month. Food
expenses, Internet etc can be kept between ZAR 2000-3000 a month.

Pick-up and drop-off from Cape Town can be arranged for ZAR 150 pr. trip.

Applicants should email a letter of interest outlining relevant experience
and motivation for participation, as well as a CV to PhD student, Katja
Vinding Petersen; katjavp at gmail.com

Relevant links:



Katja Vinding Petersen, M.Sc.

PhD. Student University of Pretoria, South Africa

Mobile Denmark: 0045 20 62 00 64
Mobile S.A.: +27 (0)7 22 80 11 46
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