[MARMAM] Seeking research assistants for the Cetacean Research Unit, Western Australia from May to November 2016

John Symons J.Symons at murdoch.edu.au
Sat Apr 16 19:03:26 PDT 2016


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, effects of human activity and foraging ecology.



Here, I am specifically seeking research volunteers to assist with data
collection and processing. Long-term data will be used to investigate effects of human activity on the population of bottlenose dolphin in this area, 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:


Additionally, land based data collection of vessel usage within the study area is conducted using distance sampling methods from a land based station in Bunbury. This experience will be most useful to students or anyone hoping to pursue a career in behavioural ecology, population biology, marine conservation or marine science.


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



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

Office: Data entry, fin matching, project organisation.

Land based: Use of binoculars with bearing and reticles for distance sampling of vessel traffic within the study area.

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. Land based components of the research may be conducted in poor weather conditions including wind and rain. 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 periods beginning in May 2016 through November 2016 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.

If you are interested in volunteering or interning, please provide a cover letter including your time of availability, a short CV and contact information for at least 2 references to the attention of John Symons (J.Symons at murdoch.edu.au<mailto:J.Symons at murdoch.edu.au>). Short-listed candidates will be contacted to schedule an interview.

John Symons
PhD Candidate

Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit
School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Murdoch University
South Street
Murdoch WA 6150 Australia

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