[MARMAM] Beach Monitoring Research Assistant

Kristi Collom kristiashleycollom at gmail.com
Sat Feb 22 13:09:47 PST 2020

Beach Monitoring Research Assistant

EnviroMENTOR program with Rockaway Initiative for Sustainability and Equity (RiSE) at Rockaway Waterfront Alliance (RWA)

Mentor / Principal Investigator
Kristi Collom, Gotham Whale 
Society for Marine Mammalogy Northeast Chapter
kristi at gothamwhale.org

June 1st-Aug 15th, 2020 (1-3 days/week)

In-situ observations will be conducted at two shoreline sites along Beach 60th and Beach 110th 
Rockaway Beach, NY

(40.5844148, -73.7995866)
(40.5783010, -73.8314845)

Candidates that can commit to a minimum of 3 days per week from June 15th-July 17th will be eligible for a stipend of $500. Schedule is extremely flexible and can easily  accommodate to RA availability. Voluntary participation requires a minimum of 10 days participating in beach monitoring survey dates. We welcome students interested in developing their own project focus for an independent study with their institutional affiliation.

Shore-based monitoring and photo ID of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) on the Rockaway Peninsula with community based social science surveys to gauge public awareness of marine mammal presence and interactions therein. 

Our overarching aim is to identify movement patterns, human-wildlife interaction and obtain photo-identification to compare with the current regional catalog I’ve developed in ongoing research with Gotham Whale. The project is two-fold, incorporating shore based surveys at Beach 60th to track patterns of occurrence and risk assessment. Secondary is to incorporate an assessment of public awareness to the presence of marine mammals, regulations therein, species ID, implications for conservation as well as recommendations for regional management. While broadly focused as a social science survey method, we will also conduct interviews with regional authorities, fisherman and lifeguards in the form of ethnographies. A filmmaker will be documenting this project and all candidates must sign a waiver to be included in the film. We will also have (4) dates aboard the American Princess whale watch to train students in shore-based methods and learn more about whale and dolphin behavioral observations.

This project is geared towards local high school students (primarily minority groups), to provide exposure to local ecology and an introduction to scientific research methodology. Students will propose a project focus in the vein of our study design. The program culminates with a final presentation with the Student Research Mentoring Program (ShRiMP) hosted at the American Museum of Natural History and future participation in a NYC Science and Engineering Fair (NYCEF) competition. We will have 6-8 students participating this summer.

The RA will assist mentors with training students in data collection (environmental, observational) and standard photo identification techniques. All students will be trained to use a DSLR camera for photo and video observations, use a rangefinder for distance sampling, odometer for wind speed and to measure water temperature, pH and salinity. The RA will be responsible for secondary photo-ID collection and should be comfortable using a DSLR camera. All survey assignments will be limited to 4-hour observations with a tent available to provide respite from the elements. Surveys will take place at variable time frames between 8am-4pm 2-3 days per week. Specific survey dates TBD based on RA availability.

To be eligible for the stipend, applicants must currently own a DSLR camera, be able to commit to 2 days per week in June and July with flexibility regarding scheduled dates (Surveys will be conducted on variable weekdays and weekends). The last two weeks of June is most critical as we will be conducting 5 surveys this week on sequential dates, including morning and afternoon survey sessions. These surveys will be evenly shared between (2) mentors and (1) RA.

No experience is needed although candidates should be currently enrolled in a degree program or recent graduate with an interest in marine mammals and conservation. Those that possess experience with similar fieldwork, own a DSLR camera and can commit to a minimum of 2 days per week will be eligible for the stipend.

Candidates must be comfortable with dedicated observation time in variable weather conditions, often in direct sunlight at temperatures of 70-100° F. Tents and water will be provided to provide respite for observers with facilities on site.

If interested, submit your resume/CV to Kristi Collom with a brief email introduction indicating interest, availability and if you would like to be considered for the stipend.

Kristi at gothamwhale.org

Kristi Ashley Collom
Senior Research Associate, Gotham Whale
Marine Biodiversity Expedition Leader & Northeast Outreach, National Geographic Student Expeditions
Acoustic Analyst, Ocean Giants Program, Wildlife Conservation Society
Board of Directors, Society for Marine Mammalogy Northeast Student Chapter
kristiashleycollom at gmail.com
skype: kristi.ashley.collom
m. (917) 530-1198
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