Volunteer Onboard for whale and dolphin Research, Naturalist
Are you Meant for Something Extraordinary?
Ready to make some waves? Are you a self starter, able to work both independently and as a team? Live on O`ahu, or already have a place to stay and transportation? Our boat-based volunteer opportunities are open to a wide variety of participants who feel conservation and environmental protection of dolphins, whales, turtles, coral reefs and ocean habitats may be part of their life mission.
There is neither compensation nor a charge for the program, but we emphasize that accepted applicants must treat the position with the same dedication they would a paid job, and be available for at least 8 weeks.
Individuals interested in becoming volunteers should apply for the program by writing a letter of interest. Please include a brief sketch of personal goals (what you hope to gain), special skills, experiences, and interests you think would assist us.
Please be specific about your availability; days, hours, length of commitment, and that you have both lodging and transportation on O`ahu in place. Please note that we do not provide monetary compensation, nor assist you to find transportation or lodging. Being short-staffed and busy, we usually scan for the phrase “I will be on O`ahu X amount of time and have transportation”. If this is not included, we will probably not get around to answering letter. Letters of Interest should be sent to us by e-mail.
DOLPHINS and WHALES
The warm, shallow waters surrounding the main Hawaiian Islands constitute one of the world’s most isolated marine mammal habitats.
Seventeen species of toothed dolphins are known to range in Hawaiian waters year-round, six species of ballen whales include the humpback whale. Many important details of occurrence are documented. Such data is critical and necessary for conservation. management, and understanding of their way of life to include the needs of the marine wildlife and their habitats.
Among the important questions to be answered include determining the number of dolphins utilizing the coastal habitats, and whether these dolphins are impacted by humans.
Our path of is analogous to Jane Goodall’s study of chimpanzees: At first, she just saw chimps, then she grew aware of individuals, and finally, through the known individuals she learned about their everyday life.
There are two populations of Hawaiian False Killer Whales. The “insular” population , found nearer the islands and of which are the only known genetically isolated population – in the world. This population has been decimated over the past thirty years – the current population is estimated at only 123 individuals. Ride along to record abundance and distribution of false killer whales and other cetaceans in our waters.
Volunteers participate in opportunistic vessel observations, obtaining photo-ids, impacts of Dolphin Smart, and as docents onboard our tour vessels. Information recorded includes:
- the time of the encounter
- the position – latitude and longitude of the animal or group of animals
- the behaviors that are observed
- the overall health of individuals
- photographic information for each individual
- weather conditions
Our work has contributed to break-throughs in marine mammal studies in Hawaii.
- Bradford, A.L., R.W. Baird, S.D. Mahaffy, A.M. Gorgone, D.J. McSweeney, T. Cullins, D.L. Webster and A.N. Zerbini. Abundance estimates for management of endangered false killer whales in the main Hawaiian Islands. Abstract submitted to the 22nd Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Halifax, Nova Scotia, October 22-27, 2017.
- Baird, R.W., S.D. Mahaffy, A.M. Gorgone, K.A. Beach, T. Cullins, D.J. McSweeney, D.S. Verbeck and D.L. Webster. 2017. Updated evidence of interactions between false killer whales and fisheries around the main Hawaiian Islands: assessment of mouthline and dorsal fin injuries. Document PSRG-2017-16 submitted to the Pacific Scientific Review Group.F copy
Mahaffy S., Baird R., Gorgone A, Cullins T., McSweeney D., Webster D. 2017 “Group dynamics of the endangered insular population of false killer whales in Hawai‘i.” Poster presented at the 22nd Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals.
Baird, R.W., S.D. Mahaffy, A.M. Gorgone, T. Cullins, D.J. McSweeney, E.M. Oleson, A.L. Bradford, J. Barlow and D.L. Webster. 2014. False killer whales and fisheries interactions in Hawaiian waters: evidence for sex bias and variation among populations and social groups. Marine Mammal Science doi: 10.1111/mms.12177. Download PDF copy
Gorgone, A.M., R.W. Baird, D.L. Webster, G.S. Schorr, D.J. McSweeney and T. Cullins. 2013. Satellite-tagging and photo-ID provide further evidence of multiple island-associated populations of common bottlenose dolphins in the main Hawaiian Islands. Talk presented at the 20th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Dunedin, New Zealand, 9-13 December 2013.
Baird, R.W., G.S. Schorr, D.L. Webster, S.D. Mahaffy, J.M. Aschettino and T. Cullins. 2011. Movements and spatial use of satellite-tagged odontocetes in the western main Hawaiian Islands: results of field work undertaken off O‘ahu in October 2010 and Kaua‘i in February 2011. Annual progress report under Grant No. N00244-10-1-0048 from the Naval Postgraduate School. Download PDF copy
Mahaffy, S.D., R.W. Baird, T. Cullins, G.S. Schorr, D.L. Webster and D.J. McSweeney. 2013. A small resident social group of pygmy killer whales off the island of O‘ahu: photo-identification and satellite tagging reveal differences in social patterns of this species in the Hawaiian archipelago. Poster presented at the 20th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Dunedin, New Zealand, 9-13 December 2013.
We are also involved with ongoing fish surveys with REEF to monitor the health of our coral ecosystems.
Wild Side’s wildlife tours focus on education and conservation so that an interactive relationship can be maintained in the best interest of both humans and dolphins. We strive to foster admiration and deep respect for these wonder-full marine mammals.
Wild Side Specialty Tours, LLC
Tours with Integrity – on the island of Oahu:
Waianae Boat Harbor
TEL (808) 306-7273