The Sea Search Research and Conservation group is a collective of professional scientists and students with a strong academic background in the area of marine mammal science. Their primary focus is the production of peer-reviewed scientific research and student training. They also provide specialist consultancy services and work with industry and government to promote conservation through effective management.
This Research Internship is a once in a lifetime opportunity for students and enthusiasts to join scientists during a busy and active fieldwork season with a focus on finding killer whales around Cape Town!
Interns will be involved in all aspects of data collection, helping the Sea Search team and our collaborators to track down these fast moving top predators through a combination of boat surveys, shore based monitoring and responding to sighting reports. Research focuses on collecting skin samples for use in global genetic and trophic ecology studies, attachment of satellite transmitters to study movements and photo-identification data to study the population size and individual movements. We will also be collecting acoustic recordings of animals and deploying moored hydrophones for long-term monitoring.
Fieldwork will include:
Small boat surveys (3-4 /week), Photo identification, Behavioural sampling, Biopsy collection, Behavioural acoustics
Satellite transmitter attachment and Shore based tracking.
Office based work will include:
Data management, Acoustic & photo-ID processing and Analysis.
Ongoing projects include:
– 1) the collection of historical and current data for all cetacean species found in False Bay to determine habitat use, seasonality and other baseline data;
– 2) a species-specific project to determine the abundance of humpback dolphins in False Bay and
– 3) the population linkages between this species in False Bay and other areas further east in its range.This information is of importance to the management of protected areas and species and is critical to guide prediction models on the influences of climate change on cetacea.
South Africa is the southernmost country in Africa, neighbouring Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Namibia. With 2 798 kilometres of coastline, made up of habitats from both the South Atlantic and Indian Ocean, South Africa has very high marine biodiversity. False Bay, in the south west of South Africa, is known for its natural beauty and scenic landscapes. The waters of False Bay are home to a variety of animal life including great white sharks, African penguins, Cape fur seals and various dolphin and whale species. The southern peninsula and surrounds are known for its surfing, kite boarding, hiking, colourful seaside villages, museums, art galleries and picturesque wine lands. Part of the project study area is the Table Mountain National Park which is a natural world heritage site and one of the 7 new wonders of the world. This area is a conservation site for both terrestrial and marine habitats.
While many areas in Cape Town and surrounds are well developed with high population densities, there is still a drive towards conservation for areas with high biodiversity. As such there are 20 reserves and seven marine protected areas in the Cape Town Municipality alone with plans to increase the number of protected areas nationally over the next five years.
Accommodation is available in a clean and fully fitted Air B&B accommodation in Muizenberg (at your own charge if you join the Volunteer Programme) and if the spaces are full, you can also stay in a nearby guest house/backpackers. Food is the responsibility of each person and would be at your own cost. Wifi is also available in the Air B&B Accommodation and if not, Internet access at the office is available for work purposes and emails.
Interns/volunteers often buy a SIM card for mobile phones, which are available at most supermarkets and you can easily buy pre-paid airtime. Muizenberg has ATMS, banks, food, and clothing shops, restaurants, pubs and a mall (Blue Route Mall).
The opportunity to join this research project internship is on offer for two to six months throughout the year.