The MERS Marine Education and Research Society (www.mersociety.org) is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting conservation and understanding of marine ecosystems through scientific research and environmental education. We are currently accepting applications from potential volunteers who are interested in collecting shore-based visual data of minke whales.
We will be collecting simultaneous visual and acoustic data from an area frequented by minke whales off the coast of British Columbia from June 15th to August 15th, 2012. The aim of the project is to determine the vocal activity of minke whales during this time and identify any potential vocal prompts or associated behaviours. A fixed hydrophone set to record continuously during this time will be responsible for acoustic recordings, while volunteer observers situated on land near to the hydrophone site will be responsible for the collection of the visual data. Visual observations will be made for 12 hours a day (weather permitting) by two volunteers (alternating shifts), each day from June 15th to August 15th.
The shore-based observations will be conducted from Cormorant Island, British Columbia. Cormorant Island is located roughly 400 kilometers north of Vancouver and is accessed by driving north on Vancouver Island and then catching a ferry from Port McNeill. The village of Alert Bay (population: 800) is situated on Cormorant Island and has amenities such as grocery store, post office, restaurants, marina, museum, whale-watching, cabins, B&Bs, and campgrounds. More info about Alert Bay and relevant links can be found at www.alertbay.ca The location which observations will be conducted from is within walking, cycling, or driving distance from any other location on the island.
Volunteers will be expected to cover all of their own costs. The Alert Bay ferry costs roughly $35.00 round trip for a vehicle and driver. Campsites are approximately $0.00 – $22.00 a night.
Individual volunteers will be required to make shore-based observations of minke whales and other cetacean species for a minimum of 6 hours a day, each day for a minimum of 14 days. Observations will be made rain or shine by naked eye, and both 7 by 50 and 15 by 80 tripod mounted binoculars during Beaufort sea-state 2 or less when visibility is greater than 100 metres. Volunteers will be expected to record all observations in a systematic manner on data sheets and at a later time (like when weather does not permit observations to be made) enter the data into a computer. Datasheets will be well structured and consist of multiple fields, many of which will require filling out each time a minke whale is observed surfacing. Binoculars, data sheets, timepiece, and the computer will be provided. Volunteers will also be expected to relay sightings of interest to the project director via text message or VHF radio so that responses can be made in the research vessel.
Volunteers will be required to:
-work well independently
-work well with others
-collect data in a consistent manner
-be comfortable in an outdoor environment that is rarely warm or dry
-be dedicated to the project
-chat with any curious passing individuals about the project while prioritizing the collection of data
Preference will be given to applicants who:
-are available for durations longer than 2 weeks
-have a background and interest in marine biology and conservation
-come in pairs (couples, relatives, friends)
-have previous experience viewing whales and recording data
-are comfortable for long periods in secluded outdoor locations
-have good text messaging plans
How to Apply
Send cover letter and resume or any questions with “MERS minke whale AV study” as the subject line to:
The deadline for applicants is May 23rd.
Minke whale research director
MERS Marine Education and Research Society