[MARMAM] Seeking research assistants for the Cetacean Research Unit, Western Australia commencing October 15th, 2014.

Symons, John Christopher j.symons.12 at aberdeen.ac.uk
Tue Sep 16 21:30:49 PDT 2014

Seeking research assistants for the Cetacean Research Unit, Western Australia commencing October 15th, 2014.


The South West Marine Research program is a long-term, multi-faceted project on the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins of South West Australia. This program is based in Bunbury (south of Perth) and is a collaboration between Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit (www.mucru.org<http://www.mucru.org/>) and numerous industry and non-profit partners. The research focuses on dolphin population dynamics, abundance, social structure and behaviour, habitat use, conservation genetics and foraging ecology.



Here, I am specifically seeking research volunteers to assist with data collection and processing from October 15th, 2014. Long-term data will be used to investigate population dynamics and habitat use, in order to aid in future conservation and management efforts. Fieldwork is conducted from Busselton to Binningup within a 540 km2 area consisting of coastal beaches, inshore bays, estuarine inlets and a river. Using a rigid sampling design, this research is conducted year round via standardised line transect surveys (up to 5 nm offshore) from a small research vessel. For further information on the boat-based photo-identification procedure, see the following open-access publication:


This experience will be most useful to students or anyone hoping to pursue a career in behavioural ecology, population biology or marine science.


Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit, South West Marine Research Program office based at the Dolphin Discovery Center in Bunbury.



Field: spotting wildlife, data collection, boat driving, photo identification.

Office: Data entry, fin matching, project organisation.

Computer programs used for data are: FinBase, ACDSee, Logger, Microsoft Access, Excel, and Word.

Assistants should:

Be adaptable, patient, and enthusiastic as fieldwork is highly weather dependent. Fieldwork will vary between weekdays and weekends. When the weather permits fieldwork could be long and on consecutive days. Due to the training required, applicants must be willing to the project full-time for a minimum of two months. Applicants willing to participate for an extended duration will be  given preference.

Preferred skills/traits:

                          1.              Enrolled in or completed a degree in biology, marine science, animal behaviour or a related field.

                          2.              Previous field experience with wildlife (field data collection, photo-identification, boat handling skills).

                          3.              Be enthusiastic, team oriented and have a positive attitude as well as a genuine interest in wildlife science.

                          4.              No history of debilitating seasickness.

Time Period:

Seeking skilled research assistants for the period of October 2014 - December 2015 with a commitment greater than 2 months preferred. Unfortunately, we are unable to provide monetary compensation or living provisions and research assistants will be responsible for their own travel to Western Australia and living expenses. Please note that the Bunbury backpackers provide good discounts for assistants of the Dolphin Discovery Center.

If you are interested in volunteering or interning, please provide a short CV, cover letter including your time of availability, and contact information for 2 references to the attention of John Symons (j.symons.12 at aberdeen.ac.uk).

John Symons, MRes Commendation

Research Associate

Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit

School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Murdoch University

South Street

Murdoch WA 6150 Australia

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