Isabel Baker izzybaker17 at gmail.com
Fri Feb 22 04:21:10 PST 2013


The Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation (SDWF) is seeking research
assistants to conduct boat- and office-based bottlenose dolphin research
June-September 2013 in Kilrush, Co. Clare, Ireland. For more information
about the SDWF see www.shannondolphins.ie

The SDWF is a registered charity dedicated to the conservation and research
of dolphins and wildlife in the Shannon Estuary with offices based in the
Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Centre, an interpretive centre open to the
public and used to promote educational awareness of the dolphins and
wildlife in the Shannon region. The SDWF was established by Dr Simon Berrow
in 2000 following pilot work carried out by the Irish Whale and Dolphin
Group from 1993. The SDWF has a strong research background and has
collaborated with a number of Irish and international research groups.
Long-term monitoring of the bottlenose dolphin population in the Shannon
has been carried out using photo-id since 1993 and static acoustics since
2001. The Shannon River estuary is presently the only candidate Special
Area of Conservation (SAC) for bottlenose dolphins in Ireland and is home
to a resident population of dolphins living year-round in the estuary.

The SDWF is seeking voluntary research assistants for the 2013 field season
to carry out dolphin research and education. Research assistants will be
required to conduct monitoring surveys from dolphin-watching tour boats,
spend a considerable amount of time on bottlenose dolphin
photo-identification and related office tasks, and assist in the management
of the dolphin centre on a daily basis. Photo-id training will be provided
on the boats and in the office. There may also be opportunities for
research assistants to help with research conducted on board the Irish
Whale and Dolphin Group’s research vessels Muc Mhara and Celtic Mist and to
assist the IWDG with cetacean strandings should the opportunity arise.

These positions provide an excellent opportunity to develop skills in
marine research and education and to assist with one of the longest-running
bottlenose dolphin population monitoring programs in the world.

We are seeking skilled research assistants to commence on 1 June 2013.
Research assistants are required full-time for four months, finishing 28
September 2013. Because of the training required, preference will be given
to applicants who can commit to three or four months. However, those
available for a shorter period of time will also be considered.

Kilrush is a small town located in west Clare on the northern shore of the
Shannon Estuary. The Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Centre is located less
than 10 minutes’ walk from the town centre. West Clare is a beautiful place
to work, but applicants are asked to be aware that it is also somewhat
geographically isolated with limited facilities and variable weather

1. Conducting monitoring surveys from two dolphin-watching tour boats
operating in the Shannon Estuary, collecting photo-id data and recording
data on tour boat encounters with dolphin groups. Surveys involve one to
four daily boat trips and are weather dependent – i.e. many days in a row
if weather is good.

2. Photo-identification and database entry in the office, including fin
identification, fin-matching, photo processing, sighting data entry and
maintenance of our long-term photo-id catalogue. Research assistants should
be prepared to work long days in the office entering data and analysing and
organising photographs, including working with historic archived
photographs and related data.

3. Dolphin centre duties, including general administrative tasks, receiving
visitors to the dolphin centre, engaging with and educating members of the
public, managing merchandise, updating websites and supporting and
promoting SDWF, and raising awareness and membership participation. Also,
general maintenance of research equipment and facilities.

As boat-based research is highly weather dependent, it can vary between
weekdays and weekends. Assistants need to be available full-time including
weekends and be prepared to work long, consecutive days, in the office
during bad weather and in the field during good weather.

All volunteers will be given training in boat-based work and office tasks
including observation and photo-identification of bottlenose dolphins,
photo processing and database entry.


-   Genuine interest in marine mammal biology, the marine environment and
-   Basic computer proficiency in MS Office
-   Previous photo-identification experience or a strong desire to learn
photo-id skills
-   Excellent verbal and communication skills
-   Enthusiastic with a positive attitude
-   Sociable and team-oriented with the ability to get on well with others
in a small team (3-4 people)
-   Work well both in a team and independently
-   A detail-oriented work ethic with an ability to work in a meticulous
-   Conscientious, reliable, hard-working, and self-motivated
-   Flexible and patient as fieldwork is highly weather dependent
-   Prepared to work long days in the field or office
-   Comfortable working on boats
-   No history of debilitating seasickness
-   Good English language skills
-   Must be 18 years or older

Preferred but not essential
-   Enrolled in or completed a degree in Biology, Marine Biology,
Environmental Science, Animal Behaviour, Ecology, Zoology or related fields
-   Previous field research experience, especially in marine mammal research
-   Prior experience working on boats
-   A strong interest and knowledge of bottlenose dolphins and/or Irish
-   Experience in interacting with the public
-   Familiarity with DSLR cameras and GPS equipment and software
-   Prior experience with MS Access and IMatch
-   Driving Licence
-   Possibility to bring your own laptop for data entry

Volunteers will be based in Kilrush, Co. Clare, Ireland and will be
expected to work and live as part of a team with shared cooking and
cleaning duties. Unfortunately, there is no monetary compensation for these
positions and a contribution of €350 per month towards accommodation and
utilities is required. Accommodation is provided in a shared house within
walking distance of the dolphin centre and town of Kilrush. Research
assistants are responsible for their own food costs and travel expenses to
and from Kilrush, Ireland.

To apply, please send your CV (including two relevant referees and their
contact information) and a covering letter with a brief description of
yourself and what you hope to gain from this experience, details of why you
would like to work on this specific project and any relevant experience you
have to Isabel Baker (info at shannondolphins.ie). Please also specify the
dates you expect to be able to join the project. Please put “Research
Assistant” in the subject line of your email.

The closing date for applications is 14 April 2013. However, early
application is recommended. Shortlisted candidates will be required to
undertake a Skype interview in April. Successful applicants will be
notified by early May.
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