WHAT: Volunteer assistants are requested to partake in a PhD project investigating diet and foraging ecology of bottlenose dolphins.
WHERE: Bunbury, South Western Australia (180 km south of Perth). A beautiful coastal town with easy access to Perth, the Margaret River wine region, surfing and bush walking.
WHEN: January to March 2010; and June to September 2010.
DUTIES: Relative composition and abundance of prey species in the Koombana Bay region will be sampled using beach seine nets, fish traps, and gillnets. Volunteers will be required to manually deploy and retrieve fish traps, seines and gillnets, assist in the operation of a research vessel, identify, count, weigh, and measure fish and invertebrate species.
Stomach contents of stranded dolphins and scat samples will be analysed for prey content. This will involve separating and identifying hard parts in scat and stomach samples. Volunteers may also have the opportunity to assist with post mortem examinations of stranded dolphins.
Spatial analysis to determine foraging “hot spots” will be carried out using point observational data. Assistants will be required to assist in the creation of data layers by entering data into an ArcGIS format and learn to use some basic GIS tools.
Fish, invertebrate, and marine plant samples will be collected and prepared for stable isotope analysis. Volunteers may also be required to assist in the biopsying of dolphins for stable isotope work.
Data entry and management, equipment maintenance, and other office and lab tasks will be required.
-Primary requirement is a good attitude, work ethic, and ability to work in a physically demanding environment. This can include long hours in extreme weather conditions and long days on the water. Hauling fish traps and nets is physically demanding work. Volunteers must be able to repeatedly lift over 23 kg (~51 lbs).
-Must be able to commit to a minimum of one month. People able to commit for longer periods will be preferred.
Preferred, but not mandatory
-Undergraduate degree in the biological sciences
-Previous field work experience, specifically with fisheries or marine mammals
-Experience using ArcGIS or similar spatial analysis software
-Experience managing large datasets
-Experience operating vessels up to 7 meters in length
COMPENSATION: Regrettably volunteers will be required to arrange their own transportation to Bunbury, accommodation and all living expenses. (Backpackers and rooms in shared houses are available for approximately AU$90/week). Schedules may be flexible to allow volunteers to work on a part-time basis if legally able in Australia (e.g. possession of a working holiday visa). Academic credit may be earned if arranged through your local institution. Valuable field and lab experience in the ecological sciences will be gained through participation in this project.
HOW TO APPLY: Please send a CV, letter of interest, and at least one letter of reference to:
Murdoch University Cetacean Research Unit
c/o Dolphin Discovery Centre
Bunbury, Western Australia 6230
or electronically to: S.McCluskey@murdoch.edu.au