[MARMAM] VOLUNTEERS NEEDED for land-based bottlenose dolphin project in Scotland (UK)

Enrico Pirotta pirotts at libero.it
Fri Feb 15 07:20:34 PST 2013

VOLUNTEERS NEEDED for land-based bottlenose dolphin project in Scotland (UK)

I am looking for volunteers to take part in the collection of land-based data on bottlenose dolphin and boat occurrence between the end of May and the beginning of July 2013, near Cromarty (Scotland). The visual data from land will integrate the acoustic information collected by an SM2M acoustic recorder and a C-POD deployed in the Sutors (at the entrance of the Cromarty Firth) to understand dolphin acoustic response to boat presence and boat noise. This study is part of my PhD project on the assessment of the population consequences of disturbance on bottlenose dolphins in the Moray Firth, Scotland.

Field work description

The land-based observations will be conducted from an elevated location on the shoreline (South Sutor, Cromarty) by two observers, each doing (at least) one three-hour shift per day. The volunteers will use visual scan sampling every 15 minutes to collect presence and location of boats and dolphins. If dolphins are sighted, additional five-minute scans will be performed. During these scans, the number of dolphins present, the school’s behavioural state, the location at the time of the scan and the location of all boats will be recorded. The data collected in the field will then be entered in a spreadsheet and sent to me weekly. Observations will be limited to Beaufort <4, i.e. there will be days with no work or half a day’s work. Volunteers are thus expected to be flexible and work according to the weather, and days off will be taken opportunistically when the weather is bad.


South Sutor is a headland located within walking distance from Cromarty, a village (approx. 700 people) along the coast of the Inner Moray Firth (Scotland), about 20 miles from Inverness. The Lighthouse Field Station of the University of Aberdeen is located here (http://www.abdn.ac.uk/lighthouse/), and Professor Paul Thompson and his team have been carrying out long-term studies on marine mammals and seabirds since the ‘80s. Researchers at the Lighthouse are an incredible source of knowledge and experience, but they are also busy with the data collection during the summer season. Applicants are thus expected to be completely independent and refer to me for any issue arising throughout the data collection.
Despite being an extremely beautiful and peaceful place, Cromarty is geographically isolated and with limited facilities. Weather is also very unstable in Scotland. Please be aware of this before applying.
Accommodation will be provided by the project. The two selected volunteers will share two connected rooms (separated by a door, each with its own bed) in Ardyne House, Cromarty (http://www.cromartyartstrust.org.uk/ardyne-house.asp). The house offers broadband internet access, as well as a shared kitchen.


Accommodation will be covered, but the volunteers will have to cover their own travel expenses to and from Cromarty and their living expenses during the project. This is an unpaid position, so there will be no monetary compensation.

Work period

Six weeks between the end of May and the beginning of July 2013. The exact dates will be discussed with the applicants at a later stage.


-      Collect data on bottlenose dolphin behaviour and boat occurrence
-      Enter data in MS Excel spreadsheets
-      Briefly report to me weekly


-      Background in Marine Biology preferable, but not necessary
-      Having your own laptop for data entry is preferable, but not required
-      Ability to stand long working hours
-      Working knowledge of computers and MS Excel
-      Be hard-working and with good team skills
-      Be flexible and patient as fieldwork is highly weather dependent
-      Be independent, and ready to live in a remote place
-      Good English language skills

How to apply 

Please send CV and brief resume (max single side of A4). The resume should include:
-      details of your availability
-      adherence to the listed requirements
-      a brief description of yourself, including what you hope to gain from this experience

Kindly email applications to:

Enrico Pirotta (MASTS PhD Student)
E-mail: enrico.pirotta at abdn.ac.uk
Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences
University of Aberdeen
Tillydrone Avenue
Aberdeen AB24 2TZ
Mobile: +44 7547026975

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