[MARMAM] Sarasota Dolphin Research Program Internships - Summer 2015

Katie McHugh kmchugh at mote.org
Thu Jan 22 10:01:58 PST 2015

*Sarasota Dolphin Research Program Internships*

The Sarasota Dolphin Research Program (SDRP), a partnership led by the 
Chicago Zoological Society and based at Mote Marine Laboratory in 
Sarasota, Florida, conducts the world's longest-running study of a 
dolphin population. The program's primary goal is to contribute to a 
better understanding of the structure and dynamics of populations of 
small cetaceans, as well as the natural and anthropogenic factors that 
impact them. The SDRP uses an interdisciplinary and collaborative 
approach in conducting studies of bottlenose dolphins within Sarasota 
Bay, Tampa Bay, Charlotte Harbor, and the Gulf of Mexico coastal 
waters.  For more information about the SDRP, please 

The SDRP selects volunteer interns during three seasons each year:

  * Winter/Spring (positions January to April, applications due to Mote
    by September 1st);
  * *Summer (positions mid-May to August, applications due to Mote by
    March 1st); *
  * Fall (positions September to December, applications due to Mote by
    June 1st).

All internships must be a minimum of 10 weeks of participation, but 
ideally will run for 12-16 weeks. Please note that we typically only 
seek 2-4 interns for each session and that we receive many more 
applications than we have openings -- the selection process is very 
competitive.Successful candidates will participate in the following 
research projects:

1)*Dolphin population monitoring project**:*(/YEAR ROUND/) This study 
continues to monitor the resident bottlenose dolphin community in 
Sarasota Bay and vicinity.  Duties in the field will include assisting 
with boat-based photographic identification surveys for dolphin groups 
during one to two weeks per month. Behavioral, location, individual, and 
environmental data will be recorded for each dolphin group, and 
additional data related to human-dolphin interactions will also be 
collected in conjunction with this project. While in the lab (at least 2 
weeks per month), work will generally involve photo-identification of 
dolphins, computer data entry and double-checking, logging of videos 
into database and archives, dolphin dorsal fin identification catalog 
updates, boat and field equipment maintenance, and other duties.

2) *Dolphin prey and habitat use project**:* (/JAN-MAR & JUN-SEPT ONLY/) 
This study uses the Sarasota dolphin community and fish populations to 
study relationships between distributions of dolphins and their prey and 
factors that affect fish community ecology, such as red tide.  While in 
the field, work will involve sampling of fish communities through purse 
seining techniques and collection of other environmental data. Interns 
typically participate in this project 2-3 days per month.

3)*Other projects* (/TBD/)Interns may participate in other research 
projects, depending on availability and timing of grant funding for 
specific projects.Interns may also be asked to assist with dolphin rescues.

Interns should expect to spend about 20% of their time in the field, and 
about 80% of their time in the lab working with data, or performing 
equipment maintenance. There is no financial compensation for these 
internship positions, and successful applicants will be responsible for 
their own living and transportation expenses. Shared housing 
opportunities near Mote Marine Laboratory may be available (cost: 
$95/week). A few scholarships may be available from Mote Marine 
Laboratory through a competitive application process (US citizens only).

Applicants would ideally have the following qualifications:

  * Minimum of 18 years of age and engaged in or recently completed
    undergraduate or graduate studies;
  * A background or degree in marine biology, biology, ecology, zoology,
    wildlife, fisheries, or a related field;
  * Basic computer proficiency in Microsoft Office programs (especially
    Excel and Access);
  * Excellent verbal communication skills, fluent in English;
  * Must be physically fit and able to swim;
  * Must be able to work effectively as part of a team;
  * Some prior field research experience preferred but not required;
  * Enthusiasm and desire to learn a variety of field and lab based
    research methods;
  * A willingness to spend a minimum of 10-12 weeks working full time as
    a volunteer with our program.

*/Additional Summer 2015 Opportunity:/**Use of overhead imaging for 
bottlenose dolphin body condition and health assessment.*(/JUN-AUG 2015 
ONLY/).The body or nutritional condition of dolphins can significantly 
affect survival and reproductive success. In addition, it can be a 
sensitive indicator of prey abundance and individual feeding success, as 
well as the presence of disease. This study is developing an aerial 
photogrammetric technique for non-invasively assessing the body 
condition and overall health of dolphins.This field project will involve 
collection of vertical aerial photographs of Sarasota Bay bottlenose 
dolphins using a novel overhead imaging system that will be deployed 
from a small boat. Duties in the field will include assisting with 
boat-based photographic identification of bottlenose dolphins and the 
collection of vertical aerial photographs of dolphins. Behavioral, 
location, individual, and environmental data will also be recorded for 
each dolphin group.While in the lab, work will generally involve 
photo-identification of dolphins, computer data entry, analysis of 
aerial images using Adobe Photoshop, literature searches, equipment 
maintenance, and other duties.Interns should expect to spend the 
majority of their time in the field when weather permits./Note: Interns 
selected for this opportunity will spend most of their time devoted to 
this specific project rather than the general SDRP projects described 
above, under the supervision of Duke University PhD student Rachel 
Cassoff, DVM.


Additional desired qualifications for the overhead imaging for body 
condition project:

  * Experience with Adobe Photoshop;
  * Completion of a boating safety course;
  * Prior experience operating a small boat in coastal waters is highly
  * Prior cetacean photo-identification experience is desired.



*To apply for a Sarasota Dolphin Research Program internship, interested 
persons should:*

1) Fill out an application form at Mote Marine Laboratory's website 
(http://mote.org/research/internships) and be sure to select "Sarasota 
Dolphin Research Program" as your first choice;

2) Complete and provide to Mote's intern office all other application 
materials including: a statement of interest, current college 
transcript, letter of recommendation, and /curriculum vitae /(incomplete 
applications will not be considered);

3) Send an email to SDRP Intern Coordinator (Katie McHugh, PhD, 
_kmchugh at mote.org_) stating your name, contact information, exact dates 
and duration of availability, where you learned about the internship 
opportunity (/e.g. /Mote, SDRP, Chicago Zoological Society, MARMAM, 
etc.), and that you have provided all application materials to the Mote 
intern office, as detailed above. *Summer 2015 applicants please also 
indicate if you have a strong preference between our general internship 
opportunity (dolphin population monitoring and prey sampling) and the 
overhead imaging for body condition project*/.


All applications will be reviewed; those received by the application 
deadline will be given first priority. Applicants may contact Dr. Katie 
McHugh (941-388-4441 ext. 450, kmchugh at mote.org 
<mailto:TUkmchugh at mote.orgUT>) in the SDRP with any questions.

Applicants applying because of an interest in engaging in graduate 
studies with the SDRP should discuss their interests with Program 
Director Randall Wells, PhD, upon acceptance into the program.There is 
no assurance that participation as an intern with the SDRP will lead to 
graduate research program opportunities.

Katherine McHugh
Staff Scientist
Sarasota Dolphin Research Program
Chicago Zoological Society
c/o Mote Marine Laboratory
1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy
Sarasota, FL 34236

(941) 388-4441 x450 office
(650) 400-2776 cell

kmchugh at mote.org

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