[MARMAM] Marine Mammals and Marine Birds of New Zealand

Bernd Wursig wursigb at tamug.edu
Sun Jan 22 09:53:17 PST 2012

Dear MARMAM Colleagues,

A course in New Zealand Marine Mammal and Seabird Behavioral Ecology will be held in Kaikoura, New Zealand, 22 May - 3 June, 2012. Kaikoura is located on the South Island of New Zealand, and is renowned for its abundance and diversity of marine mammals.  Bernd Würsig and his graduate students have been studying dusky dolphin foraging and social strategies in this area since 1984. Kaikoura also plays host to many marine birds, including the largest species of petrel and several species of albatross.  It is touted as the "Albatross Capital of the World".  Blue penguins and Hutton's shearwaters nest in the area. In short, if you'd enjoy being absolutely immersed in local marine mammal and seabird ecology for 13 days, this is the course for you.

PERSONNEL:  This course is team taught by a cadre of international and local experts, and is limited to 15 participants, preferably of undergraduate or graduate student status. While you do not need to be enrolled in university during the course, we prefer general student status, or working towards it (or thinking about it, smiles).

DATES:  Course dates are 22 May - 3 June, with arrival in Kaikoura on 21 May (if coming from North America or Europe, add one day due to the dateline, i.e. you need to leave home no later than 19 May).

CREDIT:  Course credit is 4 units (in the US, equal to a one-semester lecture course with lab).  Please coordinate with your respective university if you wish credit, and the course leaders will give you a grade on performance, and a full evaluation as per your specific school's requisites.

COURSE STRUCTURE: This course consists of 1) lectures, discussions, group activities and extensive in situ immersion in the world of dusky dolphins, New Zealand fur seals, sperm whales and seabirds;2) practical field experience in marine mammal and seabird behavioral research including boat-based focal follows, photographic identification, theodolite tracking from a shore station and assessment of dolphin activities from a dolphin watching tour vessel; 3) a chartered boat tour to observe and study albatross, petrels and shearwaters at close range; and 4) a local indigenous Maori appreciation of nature and natural resources, with a special Maori-led tour through the native forest.  Participants also have the opportunity to conduct their own Directed Studies Project during these two weeks, and to use this work towards student accreditation for their respective universities.

COST:  Course cost is $3,000 US.  This includes  the above key components of the course, accommodation in a field research station overlooking the sea and the mountains, transportation costs while in Kaikoura, and food and meals.  Evening meals will be prepared for us from locally sourced ingredients by our own kiwi chef.  Vegetarians and other dietary preferences can easily be accommodated with prior notice.  Not included in the course cost is airfare to Christchurch and  transportation to and from Kaikoura, and your international trip and medical insurances.

INTERESTED?  Please contact the course coordinator, Texas A&M Regents Professor Bernd Würsig (but this is not a Texas A&M run course), by Friday Feb. 17 with your CV and a short cover letter explaining why you would like to participate in this course, at <wuersig at sbcglobal.net>. 

Würsig will get back to you within one week.  Apply earlier if possible: first come, first considered.  A 50% deposit is due by Friday March 9; 100% by Friday April 6, 2012.

You will learn much about New Zealand marine mammal and bird research! For further information on our work, go to www.tamug.edu/mmbeg; or contact <wuersig at sbcglobal.net> for a full syllabus and pdf description of the course, with photos.

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