[MARMAM] Summer 2015 Dolphin Research Internships

Kel Melillo Sweeting kelly at dcpmail.org
Thu Jan 29 07:48:20 PST 2015

Dolphin Communication Project (DCP) - Volunteer Research Assistants/Interns - Summer 2015

Florida, USA and Bimini, The Bahamas

The Dolphin Communication Project (DCP, www.dolphincommunicationproject.org) is currently seeking one - two interns for the summer of 2015. These internships have field and office components, both of which are mandatory, and total 8-10 weeks, depending on DCP's schedule.

DCP looks at how dolphins communicate and attempts to shed more light on the meaning of their interactions. With research ongoing since 1991, our questions focus primarily on communication and behavior among dolphins. Interns will spend the field portion of this internship at our Bimini, Bahamas research site, where we study wild Atlantic spotted and bottlenose dolphins. An abbreviated publication list is available at the end of this post.


In the field:

--Travel to and assist for 3-4 weeks at our Bimini research site (exact dates TBD, likely beginning in early July, following the office component)

--Assist gathering data (general observations, photographs) during 4-6 hour/day boat excursions (weather and schedule dependent)

--Complete photo-identification of dolphins from still photography and video as well as other data entry and analysis tasks

--Assist with on-board and outreach education as well as web-based projects

--Represent DCP in an enthusiastic, responsible, mature and respectful manner

At the office:

--Travel to and assist for 4-5 weeks at our Florida (FL) office (exact dates TBD, likely prior to field component, beginning in late May/early June)

--Process and analyze data, including, but not limited to: photo-identification of individuals from other DCP research sites, event sampling from video data for behavioral analyses, and acoustic analysis of dolphin sounds 

--Assist in the development and implementation of education programs for schools and the general public, as needed


Successful interns must have basic computer skills and working knowledge of Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Current enrollment in a degree-seeking program, background in science and/or animal behavior and experience on boats and/or with photo-identification are all desired, but not necessarily required. The successful candidates will be comfortable on a boat for several hours at a time in varying conditions, including extreme heat. They will also be proficient swimmers with the desire to improve snorkeling and free-diving skills. They will be able to work as a team both in a small office and in a fairly remote and isolated field setting. Good writing and public speaking skills are a must, as is attention to details. Interns must be at least 18 years of age. Although international applicants are invited to apply, all applicants should know that interns are responsible for their own daily transportation to/from the FL office and public transportation is limited in this area; therefore, all interns should have their own transportation while in FL. 

Expenses and Compensation

This is an unpaid internship. Interns are responsible for their own transportation to Bimini and Florida. There is a $1,000.00 fee that will cover expenses in the field, including room and partial board. Room, board and transportation while in Florida are the responsibility of the intern. Although assistance in finding housing may be available, the ability to find suitable housing in Florida is ultimately the interns’ responsibility. We recommend all applicants complete a preliminary housing search in advance of submitting their applications.

Interested applicants should review information at this link: http://tinyurl.com/DCPInternships. Please read this page thoroughly before applying or emailing questions.

Send a completed application (downloadable and detailed at the link above) to kelly at dcpmail.org.  Applications are due 20 February 2015. Due to field schedules, only electronic applications will be accepted. Interviews (via telephone or Skype) will be arranged for selected candidates in early March. 

For more information, please contact Kelly Melillo Sweeting at kelly at dcpmail.org.


Selected Refereed Publications:

(for a full list of publications by DCP researchers, please visit: 


Dudzinski, K.M., Clark, C.W., Würsig, B. 1995. A mobile video/acoustic system for simultaneously recording dolphin behavior and vocalizations underwater. Aquatic Mammals 21(3): 187-193.

Dudzinski, K.M. 1998. Contact behavior and signal exchange among Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis). Aquatic Mammals 24(3): 129-142.

Dudzinski, K.M., M. Sakai, M., Masaki, K., Kogi, K., Hishii, T., Kurimoto, M. 2003. Behavioral observations of adult and sub-adult dolphins towards two dead bottlenose dolphins (one female and one male). Aquatic Mammals 29(1): 108-116. 

Gregg, J.D., Dudzinski, K.M., Smith, H.V. 2007. Do dolphins eavesdrop on the echolocation signals of conspecifics? International Journal of Comparative Psychology, 20: 65-88 

Dudzinski, K.M., Thomas, J. Gregg, J.D. 2008. Communication. In (W.F. Perrin, B. Würsig, H.C.M. Thewissen, eds) Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals, second edition. Academic Press, Inc.

Melillo, K.E., Dudzinski, K.M., Cornick, L.A. 2009. Interactions between Atlantic spotted (Stenella frontalis) and bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus) dolphins off Bimini, The Bahamas, 2003-2007. Aquatic Mammals, 35:281-291

Dudzinski, K.M., Gregg, J.D., Paulos, R.D., Kuczaj, S.A. 2010. A comparison of pectoral fin contact behaviour for three distinct dolphin populations. Behavioural Processes, 84: 559-567.

Greene, W., Melillo-Sweeting, K., Dudzinski, K. 2011. Comparing object play in captive and wild dolphins. International Journal of Comparative Psychology 24(3):292-306.

Dudzinski, KM, Gregg, JD, Melillo-Sweeting, K, Levengood, A, Seay, B., Kuczaj II, SA. 2012. Tactile contact exchanges between dolphins: self-rubbing versus inter-individual contact in three species from three geographies. International Journal of Comparative Psychology 25:21-43.

Dudzinski, KM, Danaher-Garcia, N, Gregg, JD. 2013. Pectoral fin contact between dolphin dyads at Zoo Duisburg, with comparison to other dolphin study populations. Aquatic Mammals. 39(4): 335-343.

Melillo-Sweeting, K, Turnbull, S and Guttridge, T. 2014. Evidence of shark attacks on Atlantic spotted (Stenella frontalis) and bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) off Bimini, The Bahamas. Marine Mammal Science. DOI: 10.1111/mms.12082


Kelly Melillo Sweeting

Bimini Research Manager

Dolphin Communication Project


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