[MARMAM] Whales of Guerrero Research Project Internship Opportunity

Katherina Audley k at kpetunia.com
Wed Jul 30 15:57:20 PDT 2014

Whales of Guerrero Research Project Internship
Winter 2015 - Deadline September 1st, 2014
The Whales of Guerrero Research Project (WGRP) is a privately funded field
research and community outreach project located in the state of Guerrero,
Mexico, near the twin cities of Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo on the Pacific Ocean
This project is the first to investigate humpback whales and other marine
mammals in the state of Guerrero. There is an absence of information and
awareness about whales and other cetaceans among boat operators, tour
guides, residents and visitors to the region.
Project Goals
The two primary goals of the Whales of Guerrero Research Project¹s are:
€ Contribute to a better understanding of the structure, abundance,
distribution and dynamics of the migratory humpback whales and other marine
mammals which visit and inhabit the region.
€ Raise awareness about responsible whale watching and ecotourism practices
and humpback whale behavior and biology among boat operators, tour guides,
educators, residents and visitors.
We will accomplish our research goals by conducting on-water and land-based
field studies in the area from January through March annually for the next 4
years (winters 2015-2018). The 2015 study will include two concurrent
on-water efforts to locate, photo-identify and record the songs of humpback
whales and collect occurrence data on other marine mammals including four
dolphin species (Tursiops truncatus, Stenella attenuata, Steno bredanensis
and Delphinus delphis). The research boats will be 6 meter long fiberglass
fishing pangas, driven by local fishermen, who will be participating in the
project as regional experts, citizen scientists and ecotour guides in
training. In addition, one land-based field study will record marine mammal
occurrence and activity relative to all boats in the area. Fluke
identification photos will contribute to our local fluke identification
catalog as well as a larger existing fluke identification catalogs
maintained by research colleagues elsewhere in Mexico and the US. We will
record humpback whale vocalizations to note presence/absence and also share
these data with researchers elsewhere in Mexico and the US who are analyzing
subspecies song patterns and changes over time.
Data we collect will (1) help the region to become a SEMARNAT-acknowledged
marine mammal site, which will garner further resources to study and protect
the whales, (2) identify potentially sensitive regions for humpback whales
relative to shrimp boat activity and other potentially harmful anthropogenic
activities, and (3) contribute to the larger scientific community¹s
understanding of the Northern Pacific Humpback Whale stock.
We will raise awareness regarding whale watching practices and humpback
whale behavior by hosting and facilitating workshops and training sessions
geared toward boat operators, fishermen, tourist-oriented business owners,
residents and visitors.  These efforts will be led by early career and
established scientists and educators from Mexico and the United States. A
number of marine mammalogists and marine biology educators will spend short
periods of time on the study with us throughout the season to participate in
our outreach efforts, provide expertise and support to our research efforts,
and strengthen the scientific community¹s understanding of marine mammals in
the state of Guerrero as they relate to the larger stocks.
For more information about the Whales of Guerrero Research Project, please
Our project website at: http://www.whalesinmexico.com
and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/whalesinmexico
Volunteer Intern Positions
The WGRP is in the process of selecting volunteer interns for our Winter
2015 internship program. A minimum of 10 weeks of participation is required
during 6 January -- 30 March.  Applications are due by September 1st.
Please note that we are only seeking 4-6 interns this session and that we
receive many more applications than we have openings.
Successful candidates will participate in the following research projects:
1) Humpback whale field monitoring and photo-identification. This study will
continue monitoring the migratory community of humpback whales in Barra de
Potosi, Zihuatanejo, Ixtapa and the surrounding waters. Duties in the field
will consist of assisting with boat-based photographic identification
surveys for humpback whales five days per week, six hours per day.
Behavioral, location, individual, and environmental data will be recorded
for each marine mammal group. Interns can expect to rotate between
land-based field studies and on-water studies for the duration of the season
and spend an average of 30% of their field data collection time on-land (in
a lighthouse) and 70% on-water (in a 7 meter fishing panga).
2) Data organization and analysis. In addition to field duties, intern
responsibilities will include office-based photo-identification of humpback
whales and rough-toothed dolphin fins, computer data entry, video logging,
fluke identification catalog maintenance, equipment repair, upkeep and
maintenance and other duties.  In addition to spending 6 hours on water,
interns should be prepared to spend an average of 2 hours/day organizing,
matching and maintaining the fluke and fin identification catalogs,
importing and compressing recorded sound, maintaining and repairing
equipment and attending to other field duties as needed.
3) Safe boat operation workshops and community events. Interns will be
expected to serve as continuous ambassadors for the project and be available
to field questions on humpback whale behavior and biology whenever they are
in the public. In addition, they will be expected to serve as educators and
naturalists to project supporters and local guides who join us on the boat
to work with us as citizen scientists on our project. Interns will also be
expected to participate in and conduct humpback whale and marine mammal
workshops in schools, libraries, hotels and other venues as needed, a
minimum of one time per week.
Interns should expect to spend about 60% of their time in the field (a
minimum of five days per week, at least 6 hours per day), and about 40% of
their time working with data, performing equipment maintenance and
participating in community outreach and education efforts.
There is no compensation for these internship positions. However, the
project will provide for living accommodations during the time of the
internship, transportation to and from the region, and possibly a small
stipend upon conclusion of the project, pending funding. Interns must cover
the expense of their own food, local transportation, internet and telephone
and miscellaneous personal expenses during the course of their internship.
Intern Qualifications
Applicants will ideally have the following qualifications:
* Minimum of 22 years of age and engaged in or recently completed graduate
studies or comparable marine biology field experience;
* A demonstrated commitment to and passion for marine mammals, education and
community outreach and the development of responsible marine ecotourism
* Bilingual (Spanish/English), with the ability to work within a range of
cultures including: rural Mexican fishing village culture, North American
tourists and foreign residents and educated Mexican bureaucrats
* A background or degree in Biology, Marine Biology, Ecology, Zoology or a
related field or comparable experience;
* Basic computer proficiency in Microsoft Office programs (especially Excel
and Access);
* Some field research experience;
* Must be able to swim;
* Not prone to seasickness;
* Enthusiasm and desire to learn a variety of field and lab based research
* Demonstrated teamwork, rigor, strong organizational skills, attention to
detail, stamina, self-motivated and the ability to work independently;
* A willingness to spend a minimum of 10-12 weeks working full-time (6-7
days/week) as a volunteer with our program.
Intern Application Instructions
To apply for a Whales of Guerrero Research Project internship, interested
persons should complete and provide to WGRP the following application
1. Your name, birthdate, gender, permanent mailing address, phone number,
e-mail address, the college or university you are currently attending or
most recently attended, you year of study at the time of the internship,
your major field of study, the highest degree you have received, the year
you expect to graduate, other colleges or universities you have attended and
the dates you are available to participate in the internship.
2. A one- to two-page Statement of Interest that describes: a) your
interests in the program(s) you choose and your career goals, b) your
reasons for applying for a WGRP internship, and c) why you should be
selected for a WGRP internship.  (This can be sent as a Word document or a
pdf file or, as a last resort, faxed or mailed to us.)
3. An unofficial copy of your most recent college transcript that lists all
college-level courses you have taken to-date and the grades you have
received. Both unofficial and official copies are accepted. If your school's
grading scale differs from the 4.0 scale, please include an explanation of
that scale. (Sent as a pdf file, saved from your school's website as a jpg
or png image or an htm file, copy-and-pasted into a Word document or, as a
last resort, faxed or mailed to us.)
4. Two letters of recommendation from individuals capable of commenting on
your research skills and qualifications.
5. A resume or curriculum vitae describing any relevant jobs, internships,
volunteer work, scholarships and/or other activities that you have held or
participated in and other skills or accomplishments that you wish to
identify. (This can be sent as a Word document or pdf file or, as a last
resort, faxed or mailed to us.)
6.  Send an email to WGRP Project Director (Katherina Audley, k at kpetunia.com
stating your name, contact information, exact dates and duration of
availability, where you learned about the internship opportunity (e.g.,
SOMEMMA, MarMam, Facebook (and if so which page), Whalefish, etc.), and that
you have provided all application materials to us, as detailed above.
All applications will be reviewed; those received by the application
deadline of September 1st will be given first priority. Successful
applications will be contacted by October 1, 2014.

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