[MARMAM] SEEKING EXPERIENCED FIELD ASSISTANTS for research on tropical dolphins around Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

Tim Hunt tim.hunt at flinders.edu.au
Sun Dec 1 16:17:19 PST 2013

SEEKING EXPERIENCED FIELD ASSISTANTS for research on tropical dolphins around Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia

Fieldwork dates: Commences 4 April 2014 for 6-7 months (ends mid-late October 2014).

Application deadline: Friday 31st January 2014

Project title: Population size, habitat use and social structure of Australian humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) around the North West Cape, Western Australia.

Institution: Cetacean Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution Lab; Flinders University; South Australia www.cebel.org.au<http://www.cebel.org.au>

Overview: I am seeking experienced field assistants to assist with boat-based photo-ID and biopsy sampling of humpback and bottlenose dolphins around the North West Cape in north-western Australia for 6 months (2 x 3 month periods) from 4 April 2014.

* Commitment to a full 3 month/12 week period, either April-July or July-October is preferred, however a minimum commitment of 2 months will be considered. Those able to commit to April-July will have the possibility of a 1 month extension *

The North West Cape Dolphin Research Project aims to collect baseline information on the abundance, habitat use and social structure of humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) around the North West Cape to improve the scientific basis for their conservation and management. The project is funded by the Australian Marine Mammal Centre and our research is in collaboration with the Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit.

This is an opportunity to gain experience in field techniques for small cetacean research and contribute to a project with very high conservation and management value. Furthermore, it provides assistants the opportunity to conduct research in a truly unique natural setting along the World Heritage Listed Ningaloo Coast, home to one of the longest near-shore reefs in the world, Ningaloo Reef. The region is highly abundant with marine life, including seasonal visits from whale sharks (April-August), humpback whales (June-November) and manta rays (June-October). From our experience in the 2013 field season the diversity and abundance of marine life is truly breathtaking. It really is a spectacular research setting!

Location: We will be based in the town of Exmouth on the tropical North West Cape of Western Australia. Assistants will be staying in a spacious house within walking distance of the Exmouth town centre.

Duties: Searching for dolphins, driving the boat, taking photos, making and recording field observations, equipment cleaning and basic maintenance, data entry (incl. fin matching), a fair share in communal cooking and housekeeping duties, and generally working hard and having a great time in a beautiful and unique part of the Australian coastline.

Expectations: Field assistants need to be available full-time, including weekends, and be prepared for early morning departures (6-7AM), long days (8-10 hours) on the water for multiple consecutive days, and lengthy days transcribing data. Expect up to a week between days off. Expect to spend sometimes several days stranded on land. If the weather isn't right we won't be conducting the surveys and will have to wait it out. So bring a book or two and lots of movies to watch. Expect to see plenty of dolphins, a ridiculous amount of whales, a phenomenal amount of sea turtles, as well as dugongs, manta rays, sharks, and crystal clear waters over beautiful tropical reefs.  Most of all, expect to learn a lot while having an awesome time.


*         Enrolled in or completed a degree in marine science, biology, animal behaviour, life sciences or a related field (highly desirable);

*         Experience in working on and driving a small boat (essential);

*         Experience in photo-ID survey techniques (highly desirable);

*         Experience in field research on small cetaceans (highly desirable);

*         No history of debilitating seasickness (essential);

*         Be team-oriented, patient, clean, and have an enthusiastic and proactive attitude to hard work, long hours and collecting data on the natural environment (essential);

*         Proficient use of Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Access (highly desirable);

*         Fluent in English (highly desirable)

Expenses: This is an unpaid position. However, food and accommodation in Exmouth are provided at no cost to assistants. Assistants are responsible for their own travel costs to/from Exmouth (direct flights available from Perth) and personal expenses. If however assistants can commit from the beginning of the fieldwork season there will be seats available in the car travelling Perth to Exmouth in early April 2014.

If you would like the opportunity to be part of 'Team Sousa' please send a CV (max. 3 pages), a 1-page cover letter outlining your relevant experience against the above prerequisites, and contact details of two relevant referees to tim.hunt at flinders.edu.au<mailto:tim.hunt at flinders.edu.au> by Friday 31st January 2014.

If you would like to find out more about the North West Cape Dolphin Research Project (NWCDRP), including field assistant testimonials, please check out the field blogs from the 2013 field season at http://www.cebel.org.au/field-blog/north-west-cape-dolphin-project or check out the NWCDRP album on the CEBEL Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CEBELresearch<http://www.facebook.com/CEBELresearch>.

# Please note - if you will be in attendance at the upcoming Society for Marine Mammalogy Conference in Dunedin, New Zealand (Dec 9-13 2013), Dr. Guido J. Parra (Research Leader at CEBEL, guido.parra at flinders.edu.au<mailto:guido.parra at flinders.edu.au>) will be available for a chat to talk about the project and CEBEL. Furthermore, some previous 2013 field assistants will also be in attendance at the SMM conference and others have agreed to share contact details if you have any queries about the experience as an assistant on the NWCDRP. Previous assistant contact details available upon request.

Tim Hunt
PhD Candidate
Cetacean Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution Lab (CEBEL)
School of Biological Sciences
Flinders University of South Australia
[cid:image001.jpg at 01CEEF4B.DEBB5E10]<http://www.cebel.org.au/>

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