Humpback Whale Research Team Leader

The Wildlife Conservation Society is a US-based, non-profit organization that saves wildlife and wild places worldwide, through science, conservation and education. WCS has been active in Gabon since the 1980s, pioneering studies of forest ecology and over recent years adding a focus on the marine ecosystems of the entire Congo Basin Coast region. Southern Hemisphere humpback whales migrate to the coastal waters of tropical West Africa to breed each year. Illegal fisheries, poaching, pollution, habitat disturbance and climate change threaten these populations. In this region, we are working to expand the number and size of marine protected areas to safeguard at least 10 percent of territorial seas. Efforts towards this include the collection of data on key species like humpback whales to aid in the design and implementation of management plans.

WCS has worked on Southern Atlantic humpback whales in Gabon since 1999, with the bulk of effort focused on the six-year period between 2001 and 2006. Work on humpback whales in Angola and Congo began in 2008. These efforts have led to the first post-whaling era population abundance estimates, clarification of genetic stock boundaries, and identification of links to other populations through a range of means (photographic work, genetics, acoustics and satellite tagging). Ongoing work includes a large-scale (African continent) landscape genetics study (in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History) and work to refine existing abundance estimates; the work proposed here will feed into these studies, as well as contribute to the development of management strategies for the Congo Basin Coast region.

Job Location: Mayumba National Park and/or Pongara National Park, Gabon

Job Description: This is a temporary, 3 month seasonal position that will span July-early October 2012.

Responsibilities will include:

Research site management

Coordinating and participating in daily boat-based research operations at one of two sites in Gabon Maintenance of equipment and strict adherence to protocols Supervising staff including field interns and skippers Ensuring smooth operations in base camp Ensuring smooth and safe operation of the vessel Ensuring adherence to a strict safety and reporting protocol Data management and reporting

Primary responsibility for collection and management of field data and ensuring that data is of a high standard Routine collation of photographic images and completion of within-day matching Maintenance of data sheets and accession to a database Preliminary data analysis Preparation of a final field report Minimum Qualifications:

Applicants will have:

Previous marine mammal survey experience is required and must include excellent experience handling cameras for photo-id and crossbows (and associated gear) for genetic sampling. Some experience with line transect work is also a plus Prior experience of leading or managing at least two large-whale field seasons Strong management and interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to work in a multi-cultural, team-oriented environment The ability to work in remote locations for extended periods of time Flexibility to work in logistically difficult locations A strong commitment to, and interest in, marine mammal conservation and research Basic French language skills – fluency is a plus Following the season, successful candidates will have the opportunity to participate in further analyses of data, and an opportunity to co-author publications. Candidates that demonstrate a suitable level of aptitude will be offered an opportunity to lead on publication development.

Team leaders will receive a modest stipend for their services. All field expenses will be covered by the project. To apply please send a CV, cover letter and 3 references to Tim Collins ( and Johanna Polsenberg ( by 5:00 pm on May 18th, 2012 for consideration.



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