[MARMAM] Volunteers needed for shore-based observations of minke whales in BC, Canada.

Jared Towers jrtowers at gmail.com
Sat May 12 19:13:12 PDT 2012

*MERS Minke Whale Study Posting for Volunteers*

The MERS Marine Education and Research Society (www.mersociety.org) is a
non-profit organization dedicated to promoting conservation and
understanding of marine ecosystems through scientific research and
environmental education. We are currently accepting applications from
potential volunteers who are interested in collecting shore-based visual
data of minke whales.

*Project description*

We will be collecting simultaneous visual and acoustic data from an area
frequented by minke whales off the coast of British Columbia from June
15thto August 15
th, 2012. The aim of the project is to determine the vocal activity of
minke whales during this time and identify any potential vocal prompts or
associated behaviours.  A fixed hydrophone set to record continuously
during this time will be responsible for acoustic recordings, while
volunteer observers situated on land near to the hydrophone site will be
responsible for the collection of the visual data. Visual observations will
be made for 12 hours a day (weather permitting) by two volunteers
(alternating shifts), each day from June 15th to August 15th.


The shore-based observations will be conducted from Cormorant Island,
British Columbia. Cormorant Island is located roughly 400 kilometers north
of Vancouver and is accessed by driving north on Vancouver Island and then
catching a ferry from Port McNeill. The village of Alert Bay (population:
800) is situated on Cormorant Island and has amenities such as grocery
store, post office, restaurants, marina, museum, whale-watching, cabins,
B&Bs, and campgrounds. More info about Alert Bay and relevant links can be
found at www.alertbay.ca The location which observations will be conducted
from is within walking, cycling, or driving distance from any other
location on the island.


Volunteers will be expected to cover all of their own costs. The Alert Bay
ferry costs roughly $35.00 round trip for a vehicle and driver. Campsites
are approximately $0.00 - $22.00 a night.


Individual volunteers will be required to make shore-based observations of
minke whales and other cetacean species for a minimum of 6 hours a day,
each day for a minimum of 14 days. Observations will be made rain or shine
by naked eye, and both 7 by 50 and 15 by 80 tripod mounted binoculars
during Beaufort sea-state 2 or less when visibility is greater than 100
metres. Volunteers will be expected to record all observations in a
systematic manner on data sheets and at a later time (like when weather
does not permit observations to be made) enter the data into a computer.
Datasheets will consist of multiple fields, many of which will require
filling out each time a minke whale is observed surfacing. Binoculars, data
sheets, timepiece, and the computer will be provided. Volunteers will also
be expected to relay sightings of interest to the project director via text
message or VHF radio so that responses can be made in the research vessel.


Volunteers will be required to:

-work well independently

-work well with others

-collect data in a consistent manner

-be comfortable in an outdoor environment that is only sometimes warm and

-be dedicated to the project

-chat with any curious passing individuals about the project while
prioritizing the collection of data


Preference will be given to applicants who:

-are available for durations longer than 2 weeks

-have a background and interest in marine biology and conservation

-come in pairs (couples, relatives, friends)

-have previous experience viewing whales and recording data

-are comfortable for long periods in secluded outdoor locations

-have good text messaging plans

*How to Apply*

Send cover letter and resume or any questions with “MERS minke whale AV
study” as the subject line to:

jrtowers at gmail.com

The deadline for applicants is May 23rd.

Jared Towers

Minke whale research director

MERS Marine Education and Research Society
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