Position Description for a Pinniped Research Field Assistant
United States Antarctic Marine Living Resources Program
The position is for a 4-5 month contract for fieldwork at a small field camp in the South Shetland Islands off the Antarctic Peninsula. Approximate dates for the contract are 28 October 2011 to 15 March 2012, fluctuating according to the schedule of the research ships’ providing transportation to the island. The primary responsibility of this position is to assist the leader for Pinniped research; however, the person hired must be able to work independently and will have sole responsibility for various tasks associated with the U.S.-AMLR Pinniped research program.
Duties include (but are not limited to):
Assisting with the capture and handling of female (30-45kg) Antarctic fur seals and their pups for tagging, tooth extraction, radio telemetry, satellite-linked telemetry, foraging energetics and ecology, pup growth, daily censuses, and diet analysis (scats and enemas).
Extensive data entry and management in Access or Excel. The applicant should be prepared to take full responsibility for all data management while maintaining other scientific and camp duties. The data must be entered in a format authorized by the task leader with no unauthorized modifications. All data must be entered by the end of the field season. Programming in R highly desirable but not mandatory.
Some data analysis and data summaries (in the field).
Occasionally assisting on other projects with other species (e.g. penguin banding, diets)
General camp maintenance (including generators, solar array, and wind generator), construction projects, painting, cooking, cleaning.
The position requires a person of:
v Excellent physical condition. The terrain is rugged and remote, and the ground is often wet. Typical weather conditions include frequent fog, rain, sleet, snow, and nearly continual dampness. In addition it is often windy (with wind storms exceeding 75mph) and temperatures fluctuate around freezing. Field work continues through all but the very worst of conditions, often involving carrying large pieces of equipment some distance to various work sites and lifting and handling of aggressive 45 kg+ fur seals for restraint procedures. Personnel with any back, leg/knee/foot problems or any occasional ligament or tendon pain should seriously reconsider their interest in this position. Safety is always paramount as access to health care is very limited and medi-vacs are extremely difficult. Candidate must pass both physical and dental exams and be approved for remote field duty by a qualified physcian.
v 20/20 vision and keen observational skills. A large part of the fieldwork is population dynamics and demography. This involves daily reading hundreds of flipper tags and bird bands in all weather, usually through binoculars. Excellent vision and observation skills are essential.
v Experience around large animals is highly desirable. The applicant must be willing to capture and restrain female fur seals and their pups, leopard, elephant and Weddell seals and work in close proximity to the much larger Antarctic fur seal bulls and other animals using the area for breeding, feeding or resting.
v Other highly desirable skills: Emergency Medical Training (EMT) is extremely beneficial; Cross-country skiing is often used during the first month of studies. Familiarity with radio telemetry, knowledge of solar electrical systems, 12v and/or 110v electrical systems (including wiring and batteries), construction, general mechanics, SSB radio operation, small generator repair/maintenance, carpentry, medical (first aid/CPR), knowledge of Spanish (some Chilean colleagues at nearby Chilean camp speak only Spanish), freezer operation/repair, clothing and field equipment repair, are all skills the applicant would find beneficial to him/herself and the camp. We are not guaranteed support personnel and all tasks associated with the care of the camp, scientific equipment and the personnel; are the responsibilities of the scientists working out of the camp.
v Computer skills: Data entry is primarily in MS Access and Excel and familiarity with their use is required. Knowledge of MS Word, MS Outlook (e-mail), ATS - DCC logger download software, general computer skills (installation of drivers, general repair and troubleshooting), and any similar skills/knowledge are highly desirable.
v Spanish : A command of Spanish is very helpful, though not essential. We frequently conduct business with maritime agents in Chile. Chile also operates a field camp at Cape Shirreff and there are usually 3-4 Chilean scientists that work in the area. Our Chilean colleagues are frequently bilingual though there are usually some members of their field team that do not speak English. Spanish speaking, however, is not consider essential and non-Spanish speaking applicants should not be discouraged from applying.
v Applicant personality and domestic skills considerations: The applicant’s personality must enable him/her to comfortably live in a remote field camp with 3-6 other individuals of diverse backgrounds and beliefs. The main building contains no separate rooms for sleeping, cooking, working on the computers or privacy. Sleeping hours are generally from 11:00 pm to 7:00 am, and times outside of this range are considered work hours where noise from the kitchen/dining/computer area easily filters back to the sleeping bunks. Mixed crews of “night owls” and “early risers” often lead to conflicts so tolerance and consideration of others are always encouraged.
Contact with friends, family, loved ones is at a minimum; occurring mostly through e-mail transmitted by satellite. As the satellite time is costly, messages must be kept small and no attachments (pictures or similar) can to be transmitted except in emergencies and only with approval from the expedition leader. Telephone calls using Iridium phones are possible, but are limited. The applicant is expected to cook and clean up his/her share of the meals for everyone, using the finite supplies stored at the camp. Cooking and cleaning rotates daily between all camp inhabitants. The camp’s food is stored in a chest freezer, a small amount of fresh produce in a pantry, and much of the food is canned or dried.
To ensure harmony in the camp, all camp members should have a sense of maturity and responsibility to clean up after themselves and perform their duties and responsibilities (both camp and scientific) without having to be reminded by team mates.
v Preference will be given to candidates expressing an interest in returning for consecutive seasons. Pay in the second (or subsequent) seasons will be adjusted to compensate for previous experience gained.
For additional information or questions, please contact:
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Dr. Regina Radax
Dr. Regina Radax