aerial observer for surveys for whales, dolphins, sea turtles

Good afternoon,

We are looking to hire an experienced aerial observer to participate in aerial surveys for whales, dolphins and sea turtles in the outer continental shelf federal waters off Massachusetts and Rhode Island, an area proposed for offshore alternative energy development. Duties will include serving as an observer on all aerial surveys; quality checking data; coordination with the chief scientist and flight crew; analysis of vertical photographs for the detection and identification of marine mammal and turtle species; and helping with monthly reports and budgets.  The majority of fieldwork will be aerial, although there may be opportunities to get involved in shipboard surveys with collaborators depending on contract opportunities. This is a grant funded staff position with at least 8 months of staffing provided starting in February 2019. Additional service may be afforded if additional grant funding is secured.



Office schedule will be Monday — Friday, 9:00 AM — 5:00 PM. Flight days will require irregular hours and long days. Occasional weekends and holidays will be required.



  1. Participates in all aerial survey activities, including observer logistics, scientific data collection, monthly reporting, photographic and data analysis.
  2. Assists with monthly report, final annual report writing, and data analysis.
  3. Survey safety equipment and camera maintenance, preparation and in-flight troubleshooting.
  4. Follow safe operational requirements for every survey area, maintains flight and data logs, assists data quality checking and assurance, assists summarizing data and reports.
  5. Photo-analysis of digital imagery for species detection and identifications, data processing and analysis.
  6. Conducts data quality checking and assurance.
  7. Helps to oversee budgeting and spending for the program.
  8. Performs other position-related duties, as assigned.



Minimum Training and Experience

  • B.A or B.S in Biology or related science, M.S with comparable experience preferred.
  • A minimum of one year of marine mammal aerial survey flight time
  • Ditch training certified
  • CPR/First Aid certification
  • Field and lab safety and safety awareness training
  • Good communication and coordination skills
  • Meeting deadlines for data and report deliverables
  • Specialized photographic skills and photo-identification experience
  • Attention to detail for proofing and quality checking data
  • Ability to spend long hours performing photo analysis in the office
  • Comfortable flying in a small aircraft (Can’t get motion sickness)
  • Valid driver’s license


Knowledge, Skills and Abilities

  • Participation in right whale, other large whale, and turtle aerial research programs
  • Maintaining and purchasing aerial survey equipment
  • Familiarity with digital photography equipment and field use
  • Computer skills, especially excel, access, word


Physical Demands

The physical demands listed are representative of those that must be met by the employee to successfully perform the essential functions of the position. While performing the duties of this position, the employee is required to lift and operate photographic equipment weighing approximately 8 lbs during circling. Occasionally the employee is required to lift up to 50 lbs.  Employee is required to apply advanced manual dexterity that requires extreme accuracy such as those used to repair complex equipment or electronic instruments. The employee must be comfortable sitting in a confined space during survey flights, for up to five hours at a time without a break. The employee must have excellent vision to sight marine species in-flight and confirm detections in photographic analysis. Acute attention to detail is imperative for proofing documents, and quality checking data. It is necessary for the employee to differentiate between colors.


Work Environment

The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those that the employee encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Aerial surveys will be conducted approximately one to four times per month. Survey work is performed in a small twin-engine aircraft, which is a noisy, confined environment and may include some vessel-based time so it is imperative that the employee does not suffer from motion sickness. Field work is performed outside, exposed to variations in the weather or in confined, cramped quarters for extended periods.

Applicants can apply online at: