The Rapunzel Project is looking for interns for summer 2012!
The Rapunzel Project is an Alaska Whale Foundation (AWF) research project headed by OSU masters student Michelle Fournet under the advisement of recent OSU Fish and Wildlife graduate and AWF research director Andy Szabo. This study focuses on the impact of anthropogenic sound on humpback whale communication. The project has three primary objectives:
1) Classify and catalogue the vocal repertoire of southeast Alaskan humpback whales.
2) Explore the relationship between communication and social behavior in the absence of anthropogenic sound.
3) Examine the potential impact of anthropogenic sound on vocalization and social behavior.
To this end we utilize theodolite technology (simple surveyors equipment), a portable hydrophone deployed by small skiff, and the 18.3-meter platform of the Five Finger Lighthouse. A typical day at the lighthouse involves approximately 12 hours of surveying (broken into 8-10 hours per person daily). Surveys are done in 3-hour treatments and require 3 positions to be filled
1) Skiff/hydrophone operator (on the water)- positions vessel as directed by “Rapunzel” (tower operators)
2) Theodolite operator (in the lighthouse tower)- pinpoints whales in the water, gets theodolite ‘fixes’ on location of animals and reports coordinates to data recorder
3) Data recorder (in the lighthouse tower)- utilizes small laptop computer to record theodolite fixes, environmental conditions, randomizes treatment, and times treatment segments. Communicates with “Noble Stead” in water (skiff-operator)
When we’re going and who we want to bring:
The 2012 research season runs from late-June through late-September. Internships are approximately 4-weeks long and begin mid-June, mid-July, and mid-August. Dates are approximate and subject to change. We are looking for 3 interns for each phase, for a total of 9 interns. Interns are asked to make a one-month minimum commitment. A maximum 2-month commitment may be considered on a case-by-case basis. Interns are responsible for their own transportation to and from Petersburg, AK.
Life at the lighthouse:
The lighthouse is located at the intersection of Stephens Passage and Fredrick Sound, Alaska on a 3-½ acre island inside of the quaint Five Finger Island chain. The lighthouse was both the first and last manned lighthouse in Alaska and is fully operational. The lighthouse is inaccessible to boats except for two hours on either side of high tide, and is not serviced by public transportation. The nearest towns are Petersburg, AK 45 miles to the south, and Juneau, AK 60 miles to the north. There is a helicopter-landing pad on the island in the event of medical emergency.
Interns will be housed in bunks (4 beds to a room) with access to a full (and beautiful) kitchen, full bathroom, and pantry. There is electricity in the lighthouse for approximately 10 hours a day (subject to change). Solar panels and wind turbines supplement generator power, and fuel is limited. Basic internet service is available (no Netflix, no Skype, no picture loading, yes e-mail). Cell phone service can be found at the top of the helicopter pad.
Interns must be willing to help cook and clean, though most diet types are welcome (vegetarian, vegan, etc.)- the only exception may be “raw-foodism.” Access to fresh vegetables on the lighthouse is limited, and though every effort is made to have fresh vegetables brought, stored, beg, stolen, or borrowed, no guarantees can be made for a raw food diet. Last season store bought food was supplemented by wild caught Alaskan halibut. Last season’s interns claimed the thing they liked most about being at the lighthouse (second only to the whales and the company) was the food. We eat very well.
Interns must be dog friendly as multiple dogs (including my own) may be at the lighthouse. Allergic interns will be unhappy here. Interns must also be comfortable sharing lodging and bathroom facilities with members of the opposite sex.
Interns are asked to work 8-10 hours/ day, 5 days a week, and flexibility is required in scheduling. Southeast Alaska is a rainforest environment. Poor weather will result in the inability to sample and sampling days will be re-scheduled. Days off can be spent kayaking in Fredrick Sound, lounging about the island, berry picking on neighboring islands, pursuing personal research, tide-pooling, game playing, guitar strumming, and generally loving Alaskan island life.
Interns are expected to participate in each research position, to aid in data processing as needed, and to help out with daily chores (cooking, cleaning, etc.).
- Getting to watch whales every day in Alaska
- Getting to sit in a skiff and listen to whales as they swim around
- Kayaking in whale waters
- Getting to write on your resume that you did “humpback whale behavioral research in Alaska”
- Getting to be a part of important marine mammal conservation
- Maybe make a new friend or two?
Qualities we’re looking for in interns:
- Enthusiastic, bright, and easy going!
- Ability to work in close quarters
- Passion for nature, marine mammals, and conservation
- Skiff handling experience is a plus (though training can be provided)
- Theodolite experience is a plus (though training can be provided)
- Field experience is a plus (though general enthusiasm and attitude trump experience)
- GIS experience is a plus
- Work with passive acoustics or cetacean vocalizations (S-BAT, RAVEN) is a BIG plus!
- Excel proficiency is a must! You don’t need to be an expert, but you do need to know how to maneuver around a spreadsheet.
- Experience on the water is a plus
- Interns must be at least 18 years of age
Associate Costs (subject to change as additional funding comes through):
Cost of internship: $2500/month
This covers food, room, board, transportation to and from the lighthouse, and lodging in Petersburg, AK. Interns are responsible for transportation to and from Petersburg.
For more information, or to see photos of last year’s field season visit our blog at:
How to apply
Interested applicants are encouraged to e-mail a resume and cover letter to me (Michelle Fournet) by December 16th. Resumes and cover letters received after the December 16th priority deadline may be considered on a space available basis. Applicants who look like a good fit will be contacted for an interview! Think you might be interested, but you’re not sure? Please contact me! Initiative counts!
Thanks so much!
Oregon State University
College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences
M.S. Candidate Marine Resource Management
Alaska Whale Foundation