[MARMAM] Volunteer field assistant opportunity for tropical dolphin research, North West Cape, Australia, 2020

Jonathan Syme jonathan.syme at flinders.edu.au
Tue Jan 21 20:37:26 PST 2020

Dear all,

I am looking for four full-time field assistants to conduct boat-based observations and photo-identification of Australian humpback dolphins and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins around the North West Cape in Western Australia for 4 months beginning on the 1st May 2020.

This research aims to investigate the behavioural ecology of mixed-species groups of Australian humpback, Sousa sahulensis, and Indo-Pacific bottlenose, Tursiops aduncus, dolphins around the North West Cape as part of a larger study of these dolphin populations.
This is an opportunity to gain experience in field techniques for small cetacean research and contribute to a project with very high conservation and management value. Furthermore, it provides assistants the opportunity to conduct research in a truly unique natural setting along the World Heritage Listed Ningaloo Coast, home to one of the longest near-shore reefs in the world, Ningaloo Reef. The region is highly abundant with marine life, including seasonal visits from whale sharks, humpback whales, orcas, and manta rays.

Location: Exmouth, Western Australia
Dates: 1st May 2020 - 31st August 2020
Commitment to the full 4 month period is preferred.
Application deadline: Wednesday 26th February 2020

The season will be split into "boat days" and "land days" which is purely dependent on weather.
"Boat days": Boat work is conducted 7 days a week (often for extended hours) throughout the entire field season weather permitting.
Boat days consist of preparing and cleaning the boat and field equipment, boat-based transect surveys searching for dolphin groups, taking images of dorsal fins, and recording information on group size, composition, behaviour, as well as recording environmental data. At times, there will be opportunities to drive the boat. At the conclusion of the day, photo-ID images will be loaded onto the computer and cameras will be charged and set up for the next morning. In order to keep on top of data entry, it is expected that some work will be done in the evenings on returning to the house. A structured schedule will be set up with rotations of field duties, time off and specific duties for each person.
"Land days": when conditions are less than ideal, expect to spend time in the office doing data entry, scoring photographs, and fin matching. During these days, there will also be plenty of opportunity to explore the surrounding area, which is an ideal location for those who enjoy diving, surfing, hiking, and wildlife.
Cooking and housekeeping duties will be shared equally among all team members.

What to expect:
Field assistants need to be available full-time, including weekends, and be prepared for early morning departures (6-7AM), long days (8-10 hours) on the water in warm weather for multiple consecutive days, and lengthy days working with the collected data. Fieldwork is weather dependent. If the weather is unsuitable, we will not conduct surveys and could spend several days in a row on land, however, if the weather is good, it could be several days before we get a day on land. Bring some books to read or movies to watch in the down time.
Ningaloo is home to a large array of marine fauna so expect to see whales, sea turtles, whale sharks, dugongs, manta rays, sharks, and crystal clear waters over beautiful tropical reefs.


  *   Enrolled in or completed a degree in marine science, ecology, biology, animal behaviour, life sciences or a related field (highly desirable);
  *   Experience in working on a small boat and no history of sea sickness (essential);
  *   Experience driving a boat (highly desirable);
  *   Experience in photo-ID survey techniques (highly desirable);
  *   Experience in field research on small cetaceans (highly desirable);
  *   Experience in working in remote areas (highly desirable);
  *   Be team-oriented and have an enthusiastic and proactive attitude to hard work, long hours and collecting data on the natural environment (essential);
  *   Be flexible as weather dependent fieldwork requires flexibility and involves plans changing, sometimes at the last minute (essential);
  *   Proficient use of Microsoft Excel (highly desirable);
  *   Experience in using DISCOVERY photo identification software (highly desirable);
  *   Fluent in English (essential)

Unfortunately, we are unable to provide monetary compensation or living provisions and field assistants will be responsible for their own travel to Exmouth (direct flights available from Perth) and living expenses.
We will be staying in a rented house in Exmouth for the duration of the field season and costs for accommodation and food will be split among the research leader and assistants ($100-$200 a week each).

If you are interested in being part of the team, please send a CV (max. 3 pages), a 1-page cover letter outlining your relevant experience in regards to the above prerequisites, and contact details of two relevant referees to jonathan.syme at flinders.edu.au<mailto:jonathan.syme at flinders.edu.au> by Wednesday 26th February 2020. Short-listed candidates will be contacted to schedule an interview.

Kind regards,
Jonathan Syme
PhD Candidate
Cetacean Ecology, Behaviour and Evolution Lab (CEBEL), Flinders University, South Australia
jonathan.syme at flinders.edu.au<mailto:jonathan.syme at flinders.edu.au>

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