[MARMAM] Common dolphin Photo-ID Volunteer Position in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand

Rankmore, Krista K.Rankmore at massey.ac.nz
Sun May 20 14:04:15 PDT 2012

Common dolphin Photo-ID Volunteer Position in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand

A volunteer is needed to assist with a PhD study investigating the abundance, social structure and site fidelity of common dolphins (Delphinus sp.) in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand. This PhD project is part of the ongoing research of the New Zealand Common Dolphin Project (NZCDP) and the Coastal-Marine Research Group (C-MRG) at Massey University Albany, Auckland. (http://cmrg.massey.ac.nz).


The Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand, is an important habitat for common dolphins that are present in the Gulf all year and use the region extensively for foraging, and as a calving and nursery ground. Common dolphins have been found to consistently inhabit coastal waters making them vulnerable to the impacts of pollution, tourist interactions, recreational use and adjacent urban population growth. The aim of this project is to investigate the abundance, site fidelity and social structure of common dolphins in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand.

DATES: 20th of June - 7th August 2012

LOCATION: Auckland, New Zealand

The volunteer position entails assisting during field surveys and analysis of common dolphin fin photo identification. The successful applicant will gain valuable experience in conducting marine mammal field research, identifying individual common dolphins based on dorsal fin characteristics, and the use of MS Access databases for archiving field data.

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 (data analysis, photo-ID).

Due to the training required, applicants should be available from the 20th of June - 7th August, however all applicants will be considered. The placement commences in June 2012.  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.


. Photo-identification of dolphins in the lab, including photo sorting, grading, and matching, sighting data entry, assist in maintenance of long-term photo-id catalogue using a MS Access database and Finscan. Research assistants should be prepared to work long days in the office analysing of photographs and matching them with the photo-identification catalogue (75% of the time).

. Assisting with boat-based photo-identification surveys of common dolphins from a local dolphin watching vessel, collecting environmental, location, and behavioural data for dolphin groups (25% of the time).

This is a volunteer position, so there is unfortunately no monetary compensation or living provisions. The successful candidate should arrange their own accommodation in Auckland, living expenses, travel costs and visa.


. 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.
. Have a mature attitude towards marine mammal research
. Speak fluent English
. Be sociable, enthusiastic and have a positive attitude
. Strong interest in the marine environment and conservation


. Minimum of 18 years of age. 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 fields
. Basic computer proficiency in MS Office (especially Excel and Access)
. Field research including photo-identification experience is preferred but not 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
. First AID/CPR certification preferred but not required

Applicants should send a short email to k.rankmore at massey.ac.nz, using “photo-id position” as the subject line. The email should include an outline of why you would like to work on this project, your qualifications and relevant experience. Please also attach a brief CV including at least one reference acknowledging your relevant experience.

Early application is recommended as applications will be examined in order of reception.

All the best,

Krista Rankmore

PhD Candidate

Coastal-Marine Research Group

Institute of Natural Sciences

Massey University

Private Bag 102 904

North Shore City 0745


New Zealand

Tel:    +64 (0) 9 414 0800 EXT 41520

Mob:  +64 (0) 22 025 6290

Fax: + 64 (0) 9 443 9790


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