Shark Bay Dolphin Research Project NSF REU Internship Opportunity

Shark Bay Dolphin Research Project NSF REU Internship Opportunity


U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals, or permanent residents of the United States who are enrolled as undergraduate students at a U.S. institution at the time of application.


The Shark Bay Dolphin Research Project (SBDRP) is seeking several dedicated research assistants for the upcoming summer field season (late May/early June through mid-August, 2023) in Monkey Mia, Shark Bay, Western Australia. The SBDRP is a long-term research project run in collaboration between Georgetown University and the University of Queensland, and is one of the longest running marine mammal research projects in the world. The SBDRP has been collecting behavioral, life-history, ecological, and genetic data on Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins since the mid 1980s. This field season will focus on ongoing research surrounding the long-term impacts of extreme climate events on the behavioral ecology, fitness and population viability in this dolphin population. We will also be recruiting for the fall field season (early August-December 2023) which will continue our research on maternal investment and social learning. Recent post-baccalaureates should clearly indicate their interest and availability to join us for the summer and/or fall season in their written statement. We will also be conducting a second call for applicants for the fall season later in the spring.

Field work is demanding and requires long hours both on and off the water, but the dolphin research is both fun and rewarding. Field assistants will gain valuable research experience and may have the opportunity to contribute to co-authored publications. We particularly encourage applications from those interested in pursuing graduate school in behavioral ecology or marine mammalogy.


~3 months

Field site:

Monkey Mia, Shark Bay, Western Australia.

Monkey Mia is approximately 850 km north of Perth and is part of the largest World Heritage site in Western Australia. Our field site is beautiful, and includes incredible wildlife such as sharks, rays, turtles, dugongs, whales, and of course, resident bottlenose dolphins. Monkey Mia is remote, but we do have amenities including electricity and running water, reliable cell phone service, and limited internet. Housing will be provided, and the research team will share cooking responsibilities in a communal kitchen and other domestic chores.

Job responsibilities:

Research assistants will help collect extensive behavioral data from the boat, including surveys and focal follows on individual dolphins. Boat work is dependent on weather, but even on windy days we need to be ready to pack up and quickly get out on the water if the wind drops. Days on the water can be consecutive, long, and tiring in variable environmental conditions. This season, we will also be conducting opportunistic genetic biopsy sampling, and we may use drones to collect video footage of the dolphins. Days on land require extensive, and tedious, data entry and processing. If you are interested in an independent research project, we will work with you to develop one.

Most of your time will be spent:

-Searching for and spotting dolphins

-Photographing dolphins

-Driving the boat

-Scribing data during surveys and focal follows

-Entering dolphin sightings and environmental data into the computer

-Doing basic maintenance and equipment prep and cleaning


The ideal candidate will be a student with a science background and a genuine interest in marine mammal science and behavior. This position is well suited for students of marine biology, animal behavior, zoology, ecology, genetics, or similar fields looking to gain additional analytical and in-field experience. Applicants must be able to work closely with a small team (3-6 people). We not only work together, but also live, cook, and eat together, so maturity, humor, a positive attitude and a collaborative nature are critical.

The candidate must:

-Possess basic computer skills

-Be detail oriented, flexible, level headed, and patient

-Possess excellent verbal and communication skills

-Work well both independently and in a team

-Be fluent in English

-Be comfortable on a boat and working in a remote location

-Be prepared to work long, consecutive days, including weekends

The most essential qualifications are that you are flexible, conscientious, and hard-working, and are excited about the research.


This is a paid position. All travel and living expenses (flights, visas, housing and food) will also be covered by the project. We particularly want to encourage candidates from groups that are underrepresented in STEM fields to apply.

Applications are due February 15th, 2023. Any questions can be directed to