[MARMAM] Cetacean Research Opportunity in Iceland

Huld Hafliðadóttir huld at hi.is
Thu Jan 24 00:58:47 PST 2013


Cetacean Research Opportunity in Iceland: 

Conservation Biology of Whales and Dolphins in Faxaflói and Skjálfandi Bays

 

 

Project: 

Volunteers and assistants in Iceland are needed for the year 2013 to assist
in Ph.D. dissertation research focusing on common minke whales and
white-beaked dolphins occurring off Reykjavik and Húsavík.

This is a research project being conducted along the southwest (Reykjavík
area) and northeast (Húsavík area) coasts of Iceland in collaboration with
the Faxaflói Cetacean Research project (www.faxa-cetacean.org), Elding
whale-watching (www.elding.is), North Sailing (www.northsailing.is) and the
University of Iceland’s Research Centre in Húsavík
(http://www.stofnanir.hi.is/nordausturland)

   

 

Location: 

Faxaflói Bay is a bay facing Reykjavík city where both whale-watching and
whaling are currently taking place.  Daily whale-watching tours are arranged
from Reykjavik to spot feeding common minke whales, white-beaked dolphins,
humpback whales, harbour porpoises and orcas. Elding whale-watching has been
running whale-watching trips since 1998, with special interest in all whales
visiting the bay. The company is member of Green Globe 21 and tries to
fulfil environmental standards as well as certain whale-watching guidelines.

Skjálfandi Bay is a bay facing Húsavík city where daily whale-watching tours
are arranged to spot feeding humpback and minke whales, white-beaked
dolphins, fin and blue whales and harbour porpoises. North Sailing is
running tours since 1995. 

Since 2007, Elding and North Sailing have been collaborating with the
Faxaflói Cetacean Research project and University of Iceland’s Research
Centre in Húsavík aiming to:

-      determine the abundance of common minke whales, white-beaked
dolphins, humpback whales, harbour porpoises and orcas in the coastal waters
of Faxaflói Bay

-      examining patterns of residency using multiple photo-identification
efforts

-      establishing sex ratio estimates via biological sampling 

-      analyse the feeding behaviour of common minke whales, white-beaked
dolphins and humpback whales and data collected on associated bird species

-   determining population structure of the resident population of
white-beaked dolphins occurring in the coastal waters of Faxaflói Bay 

-      assess cutaneous disorders on common minke whales and white-beaked
dolphins during photo-identification surveys

 

Reykjavík area: 

One research assistant and two volunteers (per research period*) are
requested to partake in a project aiming to investigate abundance, patterns
of residency, social structure, health status and behavioural budget of
whales and dolphins occurring in the coastal waters of Faxaflói Bay,
southwest Iceland. An intensive photo-identification study will be used to
estimate number of individual whales/dolphins and their site fidelity
(seasonal and annual) in the coastal waters of Faxaflói Bay during spring,
summer and autumn months. Data on common minke whales and humpback whales
have been collected since 2007, since 2002 on white-beaked dolphins. The
existing ID-Catalogue already counts over 400 common minke whales, 300
white-beaked dolphins, 50 humpback whales and 8 orcas. 

Most frequently sighted species: common minke whales (Balaenoptera
acutorostrata), white-beaked dolphins (Lagenorhynchus albirostris) and
harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

Other species: humpback whales (Megaptera novaengliae), orcas (Orcinus
orca), fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) and basking sharks (Cetorhinus
maximus)

Húsavík area:

One assistant and two volunteers (per research period*) are needed for a
project aiming to investigate abundance, patterns of residency, social
structure, health status and behavioural budget of whales and dolphins
occurring in the coastal waters of Skjálfandi Bay, northeast Iceland. An
intensive photo-identification study will be used to estimate number of
individual whales/dolphins and their site fidelity (seasonal and annual) in
the coastal waters of Skjálfandi Bay during spring, summer and autumn
months. Data on common minke whales, white-beaked dolphins and humpback
whales have been collected since 2001; since 2010 on fin whales. The
existing ID-Catalogue already counts over 70 common minke whales, 200
white-beaked dolphins, 200 humpback whales and 5 fin whales. 

Most frequently sighted species: humpback whales (Megaptera novaengliae),
common minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), white-beaked dolphins
(Lagenorhynchus albirostris) and harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)

Other species: blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus), fin whales (Balaenoptera
physalus), orcas (Orcinus orca), sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis),
bottlenose whales (Hyperoodon ampullatus) 

 

 

Time periods:        

Reykjavik area research period*: 

1st April to 30th May 2012

1st June to 30th July 2012

1st August to 30th September 2012

1st October to 30th November 2012 

1st December to 30th January 2013

1st February to 30th March 2013 

                         

Húsavík area research period*: 

7th April to 30th May 2012

1st June to 30th July 2012

1st August to 30th September 2012

Conditions: 

In both Reykjavík and Húsavík, several whale-watching motor vessels will be
used as research platform, for boat based work. In Reykjavik, living space
for the boat based people is located on a former fishing boat in the old
harbour, with 4 single rooms, bathroom, kitchen, living room and internet
access (25 square metres); 10 min walking distance to the city centre.
Internet access is also provided. 

Because of the training required, applicants must be willing to commit to
the project a minimum of two months (longer stay could be discussed).
Because of the training provided participants must be able to join the
project one week prior to the research period starting date. 

The positions are not paid and candidates must support their everyday living
during their stay, as well as travel costs. 

Accommodation and food during working hours (mainly lunch) will be provided
in Reykjavik. In Húsavík accommodation is provided in an apartment with
other volunteers working on different projects in Skjálfandi Bay. The
apartment is located in the centre of Húsavík town, just 5 minute walk from
the harbour area.  

There are possibilities for students to develop their own academic projects
using data collected during their stay (please contact Huld Hafliðadóttir
for more information). 

 

Duties of Work: 

Applicants should be ready to work 5-6 days a week (depending on weather
conditions) and be expected to participate in the following duties:

-      data collection (behavioural data, photo-id images, environmental
parameters, ect.)

-      data entry under the supervision of the PI 

-      recognition of feeding manoeuvres (engulfment and entrapment)

-     identification of species and behaviour of associated avian species
(e.g. auks, gulls, gannets, arctic terns, skuas, fulmars and shearwaters) 

-      identification of skin marks (infectious, parasitic, anthropogenic
and antagonistic) 

-      use of photo-ID matching softwares (Darwin) 

Above this, cleaning, painting and other maintenance tasks is part of
staying at the fishing boat. At the beginning and end of each whale-watching
trip, applicants also help the boat crew out by assisting passengers with
life jackets, warm blankets etc.

Qualifications: 

-      have a strong background in Marine biology/Oceanography, with
knowledge and experience of marine mammal behaviour and/or sea birds

-      have previous wildlife field experience and ability to stand long
working days, sometimes in rough sea conditions (seasick people should not
apply for these positions!)

-      have previous cetacean photo-identification and/or wildlife
photography skills  

-      be computer literate with a working knowledge PC operating system and
proficiency with MS Word and MS Excel. Familiarity with software including
MS Access and Photoshop is very helpful. Possibility to bring your own
Laptop is much preferred 

-      be enthusiastic, hard-working, team oriented, able to share small
living space on board

-      be adaptable, flexible and patient as fieldwork is highly weather
dependent 

-      have good English language skills

-      bring your own digital reflex camera and zoom lens: 70-300mm,
70-200mm and/or 80-400mm zoom lenses preferred (Nikon compatible) 

 

This project provides excellent opportunity for people seeking experience

within the field of cetacean researches, as well as a broad overview of

which methods can be applied.

How to apply: 

CV or resume should include the following:

-      details on your availability

-      contact details of two referees

-      a brief description of yourself including your interest in marine
mammals and what you hope to gain from this experience

-      specify if you have any preference for the ‘Reykjavík’ project or the
‘Húsavík’ project.

-      any dietary requirements (i.e. vegetarian, vegan, etc.)

 

Send applications to Huld Hafliðadóttir huld at hi.is 

 

 

Huld Hafliðadóttir

Project Manager / Volunteer Liaison

University of Iceland’s Research Centre

Hafnarstétt 3, 640 Húsavík

email: huld at hi.is  Tel: (00354) 525-5884

Website: www.stofnanir.hi.is/nordausturland/ 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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