[MARMAM] FIRST CALL FOR VOLUNTEERS FOR A BEHAVIOURAL RESPONSE STUDY ON HUMPBACK WHALES IN AUSTRALIA

Michael Noad mnoad at uq.edu.au
Sun Feb 16 22:24:05 PST 2020


The Cetacean Ecology and Acoustics Laboratories (CEAL) Group at the University of Queensland is seeking expressions of interest from volunteers for a five week behavioural response study (BRS) on humpback whales from September 20 to October 25 this year (2020). The study will attempt to determine the hearing range of humpback whales by measuring their behavioural response to tones of various frequencies.

The study will be conducted at Peregian Beach on the Sunshine Coast, just north of Brisbane, and follows several successful studies of humpback whale vocalisations and behaviour at the same site during the Humpback whale Acoustic Research Collaboration (HARC; 2002 - 2008) and the BRAHSS experiments in 2010 - 2015 (http://www.brahss.org.au/; https://www.ceal.lab.uq.edu.au/ ).

Volunteers are required mainly to conduct land-based observations of the whales as they pass our study site. Approximately 5,000 whales should migrate southwards within 10 km of Peregian Beach during the field period making the site ideal for land-based tracking and observations of behaviour. We will also have a fixed hydrophone array moored offshore allowing us to record ambient noise and whale vocalisations and acoustically track singing whales in real time. Some whales will be tagged with Dtags. Although volunteers will be used to help out on the boats, opportunities for volunteers to participate in boat work are limited and most time will be spent doing land-based observations. Volunteers will also have opportunities to participate in the acoustic recording and tracking of whales.

Individual volunteers will spend approximately five hours daily (in two shifts) observing and recording the behaviours of passing whales from the land. Volunteers will get at least one day off per week, usually during bad weather. Due to the complex nature of the study, volunteers will receive detailed training at the beginning of the project and therefore successful applicants must be available for the entire duration of the project. A high standard of safety will be maintained throughout the field work and volunteers will be trained in safety procedures.

Volunteers must be sociable as they will be expected to work and live as part of teams with shared cooking and cleaning duties. We expect that there will be up to 30 people (researchers, staff and volunteers) at the site. Volunteers must organise and pay for their own transport to the study site (approximately 1.5h from the Brisbane International Airport) but food and accommodation are provided once there. Meals are communal.

This project will suit people with a background in science (including recent graduates and graduate students as well as higher level undergraduate students) keen to gain experience in cetacean survey techniques, acoustics and behavioural response studies. Applicants should also be highly motivated, enthusiastic, sociable, and able to concentrate for several hours at a time. Those with previous survey experience of marine mammals or other taxa will be preferred.

We are also seeking a part-time child carer. This person will be required to care for a 5-year old on a few occasions and will be part of the project as a regular volunteer when not required as a carer. Carer duties are likely to be one or two days a fortnight (daytime only) and applicants must have had previous child care experience (please include details of this on the application). Preference for a volunteer position will be given to the successful applicant for the carer position.

The research project is being funded by the U.S. Navy Living Marine Resources (LMR) applied research program.
Applicants should reply with an email to Rebecca Dunlop (r.dunlop at uq.edu.au<mailto:r.dunlop at uq.edu.au>) and Michael Noad (mnoad at uq.edu.au<mailto:mnoad at uq.edu.au>) outlining why they would be suitable for this work, why they would like to participate, an outline of previous relevant experience, and any other relevant details. The email should include an attached CV and the names and contact details of two professional referees. The closing date for volunteer applications is 30 April and successful field applicants will be notified in late May. A second call for volunteers will be placed on Marmam in early April.


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