Tag Archives: Marine Biology

Research Internship – marine mammals and sea turtles

For those of you interested in marine science and boat-based field research:

Fall 2013

Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Research Internship

Program Description
The IMMS Research Internship Program is designed as a way for students interested in a career in marine science to gain valuable research experience in a real-world setting. Interns will participate with multiple projects involving bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles and diamondback terrapins. As an intern, you will be trained in all aspects of dolphin photo-id research, sea turtle satellite tracking, and other current research projects at IMMS. Interns will also participate in other operations at IMMS including stranding response, education, and animal care. Our goal is to give Interns a well-rounded experience in a variety of areas while providing expert training and experience in marine science research.
Principle Duties include: data entry, searching and cataloging journal articles, learning all research protocols, cropping and sorting photo-id fin images, learning to use photo-id programs such as Darwin (fin matching software), and FinBase (Microsoft Access), boat based field research (21’ and 31’ boats), and learn how to use ArcGIS

  • Secondary Duties involve: Assisting with animal care staff, attending marine mammal necropsies, responding to marine mammal and sea turtle strandings, and assisting with educational tours.
  • Field days: Interns must be able to spend many hours on the water and on shore in sometimes extreme seasonal conditions. Seasonal temperatures range from over 100 °F in summer to 30 °F in winter. Field days typically exceed eight hours and occur at least two or three times a week.

To Apply: Please visit our website at http://imms.org/internship.php

Advertisements

Volunteer – Behavioural Ecology and Conservation of Bottlenose Dolphins

Why don’t I live in New Zealand, damn it?

Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus)

Bottlenose Dolphin Tursiops truncatus

Volunteers required to assist with a study of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Northland, New Zealand

Program:

The Coastal-Marine Research Group (C-MRG – http://cmrg.massey.ac.nz/) was established under the auspices of the Institute of Natural Sciences (INS) at Massey University, Albany, New Zealand in 2000. Since then, both its staff and postgraduate students have undertaken marine mammal research within and beyond New Zealand waters, concentrating specifically on conservation and management orientated questions.

Volunteers are required to assist on a PhD study (supervised by Dr Karen Stockin, Massey University and Prof Mark Orams, AUT University) to assess the behavioural ecology and conservation of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Bay of Islands, Northland, New Zealand. Bottlenose dolphins are classified as nationally endangered within New Zealand waters (Baker et al 2010), with a local population recently described (Tezanos-Pinto et al in press). This study builds upon earlier research undertaken by Tezanos-Pinto (2009) and Constantine (2002) and will among other things, reassess the status and effects of tourism interactions (a decade on from Constantine 2002).

The field season runs year round and volunteers are required for all periods. A minimum commitment of three months is preferred, with priority given to those who can commit for longer periods.

The volunteer team will be required to fulfill several key roles:

1) Assist on a 5.5m dedicated research vessel operating from the Bay of Islands. Surveys will involve daily return trips (not overnight) and be conducted in favorable conditions only. As such, no minimum or maximum number of research days onboard the research vessel can be guaranteed

2) Assist with vessel of opportunity data collection in the Bay of Islands

3) Assist with data processing and preliminary analysis on bad weather days

4) Undertake additional responsibilities/roles as the season progresses

5) Effort will placed into allowing all volunteers the opportunity to gain experience on each element.

Volunteer requirements:
1) Be adaptable and patient – field work is highly weather dependent and could include long, consecutive days both on and off the water

2) Be enthusiastic and team orientated (both in a living and working environment)

3) A willingness to learn

4) Possess a positive attitude

5) Be polite to, and engage positively with, the local community

6) Be physically fit and able to work in outdoor conditions

7) Speak English

8) Possess basic computer skills (excel, word, etc)

Preferred (but not necessary) skills/traits:
1) Be enrolled in, or have completed, a degree in a related field (Biology, Zoology, Marine Biology, Animal Behaviour, etc)

2) Have small boat experience

3) Have previous (marine) field experience

Enthusiasm and demonstrable commitment to the project will supersede formal qualifications. Volunteers will be expected to work and live as part of a team with shared cooking and cleaning duties. Unfortunately, monetary compensation cannot be provided, and volunteers will be required to pay for their own food and accommodation. However accommodation will be provided in the field research house at a reasonable rate. Volunteers must pay and organize for their own transport to the field site (3 hours North of Auckland). Information, prices and assistance can be provided to successful applicants.

Application process:
Applicants should send a short email cover letter, using ‘volunteer opportunity’ as the subject line, to c.peters@massey.ac.nz. The email should include an outline of why you would like to work on this project, your availability and relevant experience. Please also attach a brief CV including at least one reference.
Early application is recommended to avoid disappointment. Successful applicants will be notified ASAP.

This is a great opportunity to work in a dynamic environment and gain further experience, whilst working on an important research project. For more detailed information on the project please do not hesitate to contact me.

Thank you for your interest.

***********************************************
Catherine Peters
PhD Candidate
Coastal-Marine Research Group
Institute of Natural Sciences
Massey University
Private Bag 102 904
Auckland
New Zealand
Tel: + 64 (9) 4140800
Ext: 41196
Mob: + 64 (0) 211058040
Email: c.peters@massey.ac.nz
Web: http://cmrg.massey.ac.nz/

Research Assistant – Ecology and behaviour of Australian sea lions

Australian sea lions. Credit: LI refugee

Australian sea lions. Credit: LI refugee

Seeking volunteer research assistants for a project on endangered Australian sea lions

Project title: Conservation ecology and human disturbance of Australian sea lions (Neophoca cinerea) in Western Australia

Project description: In this study, baseline information on the ecology and behaviour of Australian sea lions in Western Australia are collected. Individual focal follows (behavioural observations) will be conducted to measurethe level of disturbance caused by humans using the beaches simultaneously with these endangered otariid.

Also, a new photo-identification method is being tested and developed to recognize individual Australian sea lions in the field. This method will aid estimating the population size of Australian sea lions and investigating their residency patterns and habitat use on key breeding islands and haul-out locations in Western Australia.

This project is aiming to provide basic knowledge on the sea lions’ colony sizes, movement patterns, temporal and spatial habitat use as well as critical haul-out behaviour that will inform the management of Australian sea lions inhabiting key breeding and non-breeding locations in Western Australia.

Main field sites: Seal Island in the Shoalwater Islands Marine Park, Carnac Island Nature Reserve and potentially Rottnest Island, Western Australia.

Few other haul-out islands off Perth Metropolitan area are visited during monthly boat surveys.

           Field trip dates: April – May 2013, July – August 2013

June and September 2013 will be spent entering and processing data with opportunistic field trips.
Research assistants who can commit for 2 months are strongly preferred. Priority will be given to assistants who can commit for longer periods due to the training required.

Assistant duties: Collecting and recording observational data, both on land and from the boat. Assistants will be helping with data entry and processing, including sorting and processing photos and data on dictaphones.

Prerequisites:

1. Background knowledge in marine biology, ecology or conservation and experience in field research is a plus.

2. Research assistants should be confident working for long hours on islands with limited facilities and on small boats. Boat license and handling skills would be beneficial.

3. Assistants need to be dedicated to help in this project. During data collection the ability to focus for long periods is required. Assistants are expected to maintain a positive attitude during long hours in the field and towards other team members, also in varying weather conditions.

4. Field trips are very weather dependant and will therefore be organised on short notice (often only 1-2 days prior) and will vary between week and weekend days and may take place on public holidays. Field trips may start early in the morning.

Expenses: This is an unpaid opportunity to gain training and experience in ecological sciences and particularly in marine mammal research. Unfortunately, travel expenses cannot be covered and research assistants are responsible for their own living expenses around Perth/Fremantle. Rides to the study sites can be provided from Fremantle. Research assistants are expected to bring their own lunch and water.

If you are interested in helping out in this project, please send a CV, a brief cover letter highlighting previous experience and relevant qualifications along with contact details of two relevant referees to:sylvia.osterrieder@gmail.com.

           Sylvia Osterrieder

PhD Candidate

Ecology & Sustainability Group, School of Engineering and Science, Victoria University, Melbourne, Victoria

and

Research Associate

Centre for Marine Science and Technology, Curtin University, Bentley, Western Australia

Related post

Salmon ACTUALLY use Earth’s magnetic field to find their way home

Five years ago, it was hypothesized that marine migrants, such as salmon and turtles, travelling long distances to reach their natal waters to spawn (a process known as natal homing) use geomagnetic cues to navigate to the correct area (Lohmann, Putman & Lohmann, 2008). Now, for the first time, there is empirical evidence to support this hypothesis.

Sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka. Credit: Wikipedia.

Sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka. Credit: Wikipedia

Adapted from Putman et al. 2013

Putman et al. (2013) analysed fisheries data spanning 56 years, from 1953 to 2008, that described the proportion of sockeye salmon Oncorhynchus nerka that took either the northern or the southern route to reach the mouth of the Fraser River, near Vancouver Island, Canada (see the above illustration). They examined whether these proportions were correlated with changes in magnetic field intensity and other environmental factors.

They found that, the more the magnetic field of a strait resembled the one of the Fraser River mouth, the higher the proportion of salmon that used it. It is as if they had previously imprinted on the magnetic field of the river, much like geese imprint on a parent some 13 to 16 hours after hatching, and were able to use this information years later during spawning migration.

The other significant factor affecting their itinerary was Sea Surface Temperature (SST). Years with higher SST were characterized by an increased propotion of salmon choosing the northern route, possibly because fish preferred colder waters.

Changes in magnetic field intensity, SST and the interaction between the two explain up to 66% of the variance in migratory route use.

This study employed a retrospective non-experimental design, which does have its shortcomings, including a multitude of possible confounding variables. Notwithstanding, these findings are crucial to understanding natal homing mechanisms and, as Putman et al. put it, “call for experiments on the navigation abilities of adult salmon as well as further investigation into the magnetic imprinting hypothesis”.

PS: I would like to thank my brother for drawing my attention to this study.

References:

Lohmann, K. J., Putman, N. F., & Lohmann, C. M. F. (2008). Geomagnetic imprinting: A unifying hypothesis for long-distance natal homing. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(49), 19096-19101. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0801859105

Putman, M. F., Lohmann, K. J., Putman, E. M., Quinn, T. P., Klimley, A. P., & Noakes, D. L. G. (2013). Evidence for geomagnetic imprinting as a homing mechanism in Pacific Salmon. Current Biology, 23, 1-5. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2012.12.041

Research Assistant – Dolphin Ecology

This one seems like a great opportunity for “beginner” marine mammalogists/biologists. Details below.

Two research assistants are required to assist with a PhD study investigating common dolphin ecology (Delphinussp.) in the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. This PhD project is part of the ongoing research of the New Zealand Common Dolphin Project (NZCDP) and the Coastal-Marine Research Group (C-MRG) at Massey University Albany, Auckland. (http://cmrg.massey.ac.nz).

PROJECT BACKGROUND:

Growing interest in observing and swimming with free-ranging cetaceans has contributed to a rapid growth ofdolphin-based tourism operations. The PhD project aims to examine distribution and habitat use of common dolphins in the East Coast Bay of Plenty and assess the effects of interacting activities on both populations. Part of the study focuses on photo-identification in order to assess common dolphin site fidelity in the Bay of Plenty.

DATES:

March – September 2013. A minimum commitment of 3 months is required. Priority will be given to candidates who can commit for longer periods.

LOCATION:

Tauranga, New Zealand

RESPONSIBILITIES & FIELD WORK OPPORTUNITY:

Analysis of photo-identification data, including assistance with photo sorting, grading, and matching, sighting data entry, maintenance of long-term photo-id catalogue using a MS Access database. Research assistants should be prepared to work long days analysing photographs and matching them with the photo-identification catalogue.

Opportunistically, the candidate will be able to join the team on the field and learn environmental and behavioural data collection for cetaceans. Surveys will be conducted from tourism boats. Surveys will be carried out in the coastal waters of Tauranga. Fieldwork is weather dependent and can vary between weekdays and weekends.

Assistants need to be available FULL-TIME (including WEEKENDS and PUBLIC HOLIDAYS if on the field) and be prepared to work on computer 6-8 hours per day.

This position is suitable in the framework of a degree, with the opportunity to write up a report/thesis for the candidate university/school.

PREREQUISITES:

. Be meticulous, reliable, adaptable, hardworking and patient.

. Have a mature and independent attitude towards marine mammal research.

. Speak fluent English

. Be sociable, enthusiastic and have a positive attitude

. Strong interest in the marine environment and conservation

. Previous experience in photo-ID on small cetaceans will be considered.

QUALIFICATIONS:

. The project is well suited to upper level undergrads, recent grads and graduate students who have some background in Biology, Marine Biology, Ecology, Zoology or related fields.

. Basic computer proficiency in Microsoft Office (especially Excel and Access)

Preferred qualifications but not required:

. Field research including photo-identification experience

. Previous experience in survey techniques and especially in marine mammal research

. Prior experience working on small research vessels

APPLICATION PROCESS:

This is a volunteer position, so there is unfortunately no monetary compensation or living provisions. However, help can be provided to find accommodation. Assistants will be responsible for travel to Tauranga and their own living expenses.

Applicants should email a letter of interest outlining relevant experience and motivation for participation, as well as a CV and the contacts for referees to Anna Meissner

a.m.meissner@massey.ac.nz

Early application is recommended as applications will be examined in order of reception.

Kindest regards,
Anna Meissner
————————————————-
Anna M. Meissner
PhD student
Coastal-Marine Research Group
Institute of Natural and Mathematical Sciences
Massey University
Private Bag 102 904
North Shore City, 0745
Auckland, New Zealand

Tel: +64 9 414 0800 ext 41520
Cell: +64 22 603 6646
Fax: +64 9 443 9790

Email: a.m.meissner@massey.ac.nz
Web: http://cmrg.massey.ac.nz

Octopus Tool Use

Common octopus Octopus vulgaris. Credit: OpenCage Systems.

Common octopus Octopus vulgaris. Credit: OpenCage Systems

According to St. Amant and Horton (2008, cited by Bentley-Condit & Smith), tool use can be defined as the use of an object to either alter the physical properties of another one or to mediate the flow of information between the user and its environment (non exhaustive definition). It has been observed and studied in various vertebrate species, perhaps most typically in primates, passerines and corvids. Among the invertebrates catalogued as tool users, which include several ant species, cephalopods seem to be only “borderline” users. Nonetheless, the internet contains some compelling videos showing octopuses with coconut shells:

[brightcove vid=57069207001&exp3=2227271001&surl=http://c.brightcove.com/services&amp
Continue reading