Allied Whale/Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. Research Assistant Positions: 2023 Field Season

Allied Whale (AW), the marine mammal research lab of College of the

Atlantic and Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. (BHWW) seeks 5 interns/research

assistants for the 2023 field season. These are entry-level research

positions designed to offer experience for individuals seeking to develop

their professional careers in marine mammal research. Two summer positions

(May 15 through August 31) and three full season positions (May 15 through

October 15) are available.

Overview of position: This is a unique internship program in that the

selected individuals will have the opportunity to participate and receive

training in a wide range of marine mammal research activities Allied Whale

while also working as a crew/scientist aboard commercial whale watching

trips operating from Bar Harbor, Maine. Allied Whale currently supports

field projects in the trophic ecology of humpback and fin whales, the

ongoing housing and maintenance of the North Atlantic humpback and fin

whale photo ID catalogs, an active stranding response program, and a

research/education partnership with Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co. In addition,

Allied Whale maintains the facilities on and conducts research from Mount

Desert Rock, a remote offshore island. The interns play a critical role in

the success of the field season and serve as support to all aspects of

summer activities within both Allied Whale and Bar Harbor Whale Watch Co.

Description of duties: Upon arrival in May, all interns will receive

research, boat crew, and Gulf of Maine natural history training by both

Allied Whale and the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company staff. As the Allied

Whale field season does not begin until early June- the first several weeks

will be focused on hands-on training of whale watch deckhand

responsibilities, helping with boat maintenance, and assisting with whale

catalog matching in the office or stranding response.

Once the season is in full swing, interns will rotate through shifts

working as a Research Assistant/Deckhand (RA) for the Bar Harbor Whale

Watch Co., shifts working as deck/galley on lighthouse/nature cruises,

shifts in the Allied Whale office, and time off. Every week, schedules will

be different and weather dependent. A typical week in June-August may

include 2-4 days scheduled as researchers on Whale Watch vessels, 1-2 days

scheduled in the office, and two days off (these days may or may not be

consecutive). Weather may cause shifts to be canceled and some weeks may be

lighter in load or responsibilities.

Below are specific expectations for each designated shift:

Whale watch trips: Research responsibilities on the whale watch trips

include searching for whales, photo-identification of whales, and

behavioral data collection. RAs will also collect pelagic seabird data

during offshore travel to the whale feeding areas. Beyond research, RAs are

responsible for assisting the naturalist in promoting education and

conservation programs on each trip. In this, maintaining a positive,

professional, and friendly demeanor while engaging whale watch passengers

and fellow crew is necessary. Deckhand responsibilities include line

handling, vessel cleaning, helping seasick passengers, and passenger

safety. When whale watch trips cancel for weather, crew may be asked to

report for duty to complete maintenance on the vessel.

Allied Whale office shifts: On scheduled office days, interns will be

required to be available in the Allied Whale office from 9AM-5PM. During

those hours, interns will match individual whales to our catalog, enter

their whale watch data into the database, manage the Adopt-a-whale program,

answer phone calls to the office, and be on call for assisting with

response to strandings or necropsies. Interns schedule for office shifts

will also be on call for boat research days.

Allied Whale boat research days: When weather permits, interns will assist

Allied Whale staff and graduate students on trips offshore to collect

biopsy samples of humpback and fin whales. While on board one of the

research vessels, interns will be responsible for collecting photo

identification of whales and recording data. Interns will be responsible

for processing images from these trips. If schedule allows, RAs may also

participate in an overnight trip to collect samples in Canada.

Mount Desert Rock: We hope for interns to also complete several shifts

(each at least a week in length) at our offshore research station Mount

Desert Rock. While on the island, interns will participate in land-based

whale monitoring from the lighthouse tower, seal counts, gull counts, and

maintenance/construction projects at the station. Interns will collect

weekly samples of seal scat to contribute to a collaborative microplastics

project.  Interns will also receive experience working in a remote

off-the-grid location. Once hired, RAs will work to develop a collaborative

group project (on seal colony, intertidal community, nesting birds,

jellies, etc.) and will take turns with data collection during their shifts

offshore. RAs will also stay in contact with the BHWW office with sightings


Pay/Housing: Those accepted to the program are able to earn income by their

work on the Bar Harbor Whale Watch Company. Deckhands are paid $70 a trip

(at the height of summer, there are 2 trips running a day). Interns also

receive free First Aid Certification. Provided housing in downtown Bar

Harbor is mandatory for a fee. Rent for the season will total approximately

$2080 for summer interns and $2350 for full season interns. While at Mount

Desert Rock, food is provided for free. **After August 31, if any of the summer

interns are interested they are welcome to work full time for the remainder

of the season as crew for the BHWW as deckhand/galley on lighthouse trips,

nature cruises, whale watches, and cruise ship tendering operations.

Qualifications: Applicants should have a college background or be currently

enrolled in a biology, ecology, and/or marine sciences program. Previous

data collection experience in a research setting and/or knowledge of marine

mammals are great advantages. While training will be provided and no prior

boating/camera experience is required, time spent offshore or skills in

photography are also assets. Due to Coast Guard requirements, all crew

onboard US commercial vessels and therefore all research

assistants/interns, must be US citizens or have permanent resident alien

status.  Also, all interns will be drug screened prior to employment and

will be enrolled in a random drug testing program.  Most importantly,

applicants must be positive in attitude, flexible to quickly changing

schedules, able to work independently, and be seaworthy/comfortable working

on boats in rough weather. Lastly, because of the community living

situation both in Bar Harbor and on Mount Desert Rock, applicants must get

along well with others and be able to handle working in a team setting.

To apply: Please send a cover letter detailing your reasons for applying, a

resume, and two letters of recommendation via email to Recommendation letters may either be

sent with the application or directly from the references.

Please specify which position you are interested in (summer or full-season).

Deadline of application is February 24th.

Allied Whale and the College of the Atlantic are committed to inclusive

excellence. We strive toward an open and diverse community that fosters the

inclusion of voices that have been underrepresented or discouraged. We

encourage applications from members of groups that have been marginalized

or underrepresented in higher education. More information about the

college’s commitment and strategic plan for diversity, equity, and

inclusion can be found here: