|Baby bottlenose dolphin shannonry point 2006 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
The Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Foundation (SDWF) is seeking research assistants to conduct boat- and office-based bottlenose dolphin research May-September 2015 in Kilrush, Co. Clare, Ireland. For more information about the SDWF see www.shannondolphins.ie and https://www.facebook.com/ShannonDolphinAndWildlifeCentre
The SDWF is a registered charity dedicated to the conservation and research of dolphins and wildlife in the Shannon Estuary with offices based in the Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Centre, an interpretive centre open to the public and used to promote educational awareness of the dolphins and wildlife in the Shannon region. The SDWF was established by Dr Simon Berrow in 2000 following pilot work carried out by the Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG) from 1993. The SDWF has a strong research background and has collaborated with a number of Irish and international research groups. Long-term monitoring of the bottlenose dolphin population in the Shannon has been carried out using photo-id since 1993 and static acoustics since 2001. The Shannon River estuary is presently the only candidate Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for bottlenose dolphins in Ireland and is home to a resident population of dolphins living year-round in the estuary.
The SDWF is seeking voluntary research assistants for the 2015 field season to carry out dolphin research and education. Research assistants will be required to conduct monitoring surveys from dolphin-watching tour boats, spend a considerable amount of time on bottlenose dolphin photo-identification and related office tasks, and assist in the management of the dolphin centre on a daily basis. Photo-id training will be provided on the boats and in the office.
Research assistants will also assist with a PhD project on bottlenose dolphin social and foraging behaviour on board the RV *Muc Mhara* when weather conditions allow for fieldwork. This research will consist of boat-based photo-ID and behavioural observations of bottlenose dolphins in the Shannon Estuary and presents an opportunity to gain experience in field techniques for small cetacean research, while contributing to a project with a strong scientific aim and a high conservation value.
There may also be opportunities for assistants to help with research conducted on board the Irish Whale and Dolphin Groupâs research vessel *Celtic Mist* and to assist the IWDG with cetacean strandings should the opportunity arise.
These positions provide an excellent opportunity to develop skills in cetacean research and education and to assist with one of the longest-running bottlenose dolphin population monitoring programs in the world.
16 May 2015 â" 19 September 2015
We are seeking skilled research assistants to commence on 16 May 2015. Research assistants are required full-time for four months, finishing 19 September 2015. Because of the training required, preference will be given to applicants who can commit to three or four months. However, those available for a shorter period of time will also be considered.
Research assistants will be based in Kilrush, Co. Clare, Ireland, a small town located in west Clare on the northern shore of the Shannon Estuary. The Shannon Dolphin and Wildlife Centre is located less than 10 minutesâ walk from the town centre. West Clare is a beautiful place to work, but applicants are asked to be aware that it is also somewhat geographically isolated with limited facilities and variable weather patterns.
1. Conducting monitoring surveys from two dolphin-watching tour boats operating in the Shannon Estuary, collecting photo-id data and recording data on tour boat encounters with dolphin groups. Surveys involve one to four daily boat trips and are weather dependent â" i.e. many days in a row if weather is good.
2. Photo-identification and database entry in the office, including fin identification, fin-matching, photo processing, sighting data entry and maintenance of our long-term photo-id catalogue. Research assistants should be prepared to work long days in the office entering data and analysing and