[MARMAM] Field assistants needed for a boat-based study on dusky dolphins off Kaikoura, New Zealand

Dara Orbach orbachd at tamug.edu
Fri Jun 7 14:15:05 PDT 2013

Highly motivated volunteer field assistants are needed to assist with a PhD project assessing the mating tactics of dusky dolphins off Kaikoura, New Zealand. This research is in collaboration with Dr. Bernd Würsig at Texas A&M University at Galveston. The project runs from mid-October through the end of January. Volunteers must able to commit to the whole project duration. 

Vessel operator (1 position): The primary duty entails operating a 6-m research vessel (semi-rigid hull, 80 HP outboard motor) including launching and docking the vessel, safely maneuvering the vessel to determined GPS co-ordinates, and following dolphin pods while facilitating smooth conditions for videography and photography. Addition daily responsibilities include assisting with Photo-ID analysis. Applicants for this position should have extensive oceanic experience operating motorboats including launching, docking, bunking, and trailering a boat. Applicants with previous experience operating vessels near marine mammals should explain details in their cover letter. 

Photographer (2 positions): The primary duty entails photographing dolphin dorsal fins for photo-id analysis during boat-based focal follows. One field assistant will also crop, sort, trace, and match fins on a daily basis. The other field assistant will analyze recorded mating videos using an ethogram of mating behaviors. The two photography assistants will rotate every second day between boat-based work taking photographs and lab-based work analyzing pictures or videos. Assistants may also have opportunities to take photos on “lab days” from a larger boat-based platform once data is processed. Applicants for this position should have extensive boat-based experience photographing marine mammals using a DSLR camera. Applicants should clarify if they are applying for the photo or video analyst position and describe relevant experience. Please also include a few images (or a website link) of cetacean dorsal fin photographs which highlight your photography skills.

Expectations: All applicants should be hard working, able to follow instructions with precision, exceptional communicators, innovative problem solvers, and comfortable on boats. This project involves continuous teamwork and applicants must be able to get along well with others and maintain a positive attitude under stressful conditions. All positions can be physically and mentally demanding and are best suited for those with a passion for behavioral ecology field work.

Typical field days involve being on the water from 8 AM through 4 PM (with a 2 hour siesta on the boat), followed by several hours of data processing. Data is collected whenever the weather conditions are conducive including weekends. 

This position is unpaid and field assistants are responsible for their own food expenses, NZ visa, and travel to/from Kaikoura. Housing is provided in a stunning luxury home with incredible views and private bedrooms. A field vehicle is available for errands in town.

To apply, please send a cover letter and cv detailing relevant field work experience with references to orbachd at tamug.edu prior to July 1st 2013. Please also indicate in your cover letter if you are able to operate a manual/standard vehicle and if you have experience backing up a trailer.

Dara Orbach
Ph.D. candidate
Marine Mammal Behavioral Ecology Group
Department of Marine Biology- IDP
Texas A&M University at Galveston
orbachd at tamug.edu

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