[MARMAM] Volunteer expeditioners to monitor cetaceans distribution off the North-western Iberian Peninsula

Bruno Díaz López bruno at thebdri.com
Mon Aug 28 02:26:51 PDT 2017

On behalf of the Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute (BDRI) <http://www.thebdri.com/>, I am pleased to announce that we are currently accepting applications for volunteer expeditioners to participate in a new research project monitoring cetaceans off the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park (Spain).

Program Description: 

- When and Where: From 2nd until 15th October 2017 our research team will carry out the first boat based surveys to monitor the pesence of cetaceans and marine birds offshore the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park (NW Spain). This is an important hotspot for cetaceans and marine birds, an important area of upwelling and it is considered to be one of the most productive oceanic regions in the world. 

- Objectives: The BDRI Ship Tyba III will be engaged in a marine mammal assessment survey of waters around the islands of Cíes, Ons, and Sálvora (Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park) extending offshore to the limits of the continental shelf. The overall objective of the expedition is to understand the distribution of the dolphin and whale species commonly found in this area. No fewer than 22 cetacean species have been recorded in these waters over the years. Some species are found there year-round while others are seen only occasionally. Being the first legs of the transects we dont know what we will find but we have high expectations of high biodiversity as during this period there is high primary productivity. Common bottlenose dolphins, minke whales, harbour porpoises, short-beaked common dolphins, and Risso's dolphins have been recorded quite frequently by the BDRI team in coastal waters. For this research expedition one of the main objectives will be to record the presence of other cetacean species along the continental shelf such as: orcas, fin whales, sperm whales, beaked whales, long-finned pilot whales, etc. And the exciting part is that it is yet to be discovered! Moreover, we will monitor the presence of multiple species of marine birds such as different species of shearwaters, gulls, petrels, terns, skuas, gannets, auks, cormorants and much more. The cetacean species that migrate through or live in these waters face constant threats from human activities: heavy shipping traffic, fisheries and pollution. Participating as volunteer expeditioner you will help researchers to find out how these activities affect marine mammals and develop strategies to reduce these risks.     

- How: During 5 daily cruises per week, the research team on the Tyba III will conduct visual surveys of cetaceans and marine birds along predetermined transects. Daily procedures and field schedule are strongly dependent on current weather conditions. Daily monitoring surveys usually last between 8 and 10 hours, but can sometimes last up to 14 hours. The ship will depart from O Grove to transit to the study area every day and will return every night at the harbour. The data collected will provide information on cetacean density, distribution, group size and composition. Photographs taken by the researchers will document the distribution of individual cetaceans. Data on the distribution and abundance of seabirds will be recorded to further characterize the ecosystem in which the cetaceans live. Along with the marine life observations, environmental data will be collected to characterize cetacean habitat and its variation over time. During bad weather the volunteers will work together with researchers on data sorting and data analysis at the BDRI's lab. The scientific field party will consist of three experienced marine mammal researchers and research assitants. Chief Scientist for the expedition is BDRI chief biologist Bruno Díaz López.

Participants Requirements:

This program is an opportunity to participate in a boat-based research expedition and to obtain training in marine mammals and marine birds research. Participants join the research team and have a hands-on experience working from BDRI's research vessel whilst based at the BDRI's Research Station in the town of O Grove (Pontevedra, Spain). 

- This program is open to all applicants 18 years of age or older. 
- No previous experience is required and all training and equipment will be provided to participants. 
- A strong interest in marine biology and conservation, self-motivation, and willingness to learn and work under often difficult (but rewarding) open ocean boat-based field conditions. As a research assitant, you will be encouraged to work hard and gain an insight of what it is actually like to work as a marine mammal researcher. The BDRI is a very international environment, and the working language is English. 

Participation fee:
The BDRI is a small private and self-funded centre, hence, there is an participation fee (560 Euros for the week and 1 000 Euros for two weeks) which includes the boat based surveys, training, accommodation in an apartment, use of equipment, and other expenses derived of your participation in the expeditions and lab work. Successful applicants will be responsible for their own transportation expenses to and from the research centre (O Grove, Galicia, Spain). 

The income generated allows BDRI to carry out the expenses generated by this research expedition, you can be assured that without your contribution this type of research couldn't be undertaken. 

How to apply:

Positions are open for one week or two weeks until filled (maximum 9 volunteer expeditioners). Approved applications are accepted on a first-come, first serve basis. 

Interested candidates should submit an email with a cover letter explaining why you are interested in the project and your availability (i.e. one or two weeks) to: info at thebdri.com

For more information about BDRI's research and conservation work, please visit www.thebdri.com or our Facebook page.

Best regards, and see you onboard!

Lastest scientific articles published by the BDRI: 

- Diaz Lopez B., 2017. Temporal variability of predator presence around a fin fish farm in the North-western Mediterranean Sea. Marine Ecology 38(1), e12378. 
- Diaz Lopez B. and Methion S., 2017. The impact of shellfish farming on common bottlenose dolphins’ use of habitat. Marine Biology 164: 83. 
- Díaz López, B., Grandcourt, E., Methion, S., Das, H., Bugla, I., Al Hameli, M., Al Hameri, H., Abdulla, M; Al Blooshi, A; Al Dhaheri, S.(2017). The distribution, abundance and group dynamics of Indian Ocean humpback dolphins (Sousa plumbea) in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi (UAE). Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 1-9. 

Bruno Díaz López
Chief biologist and Director
The Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute BDRI
Avenida Beiramar 192, O Grove 36980, Spain
0034 684 248552

More information about the MARMAM mailing list