We are studying harbour porpoise, one of the most common and most widely distributed of all whales, porpoises and dolphins.
Our Marine Mammal Observer volunteers help us gather data that our scientists can use to look at seasonal abundance, habitat use and other factors that are important for species management and conservation decisions. They also contribute to our efforts to raise awareness for some of the world’s smallest cetaceans.
Tasks and Responsibilities
- look for and report porpoise sightings
You will also record sightings of other marine mammals and vessel activity in the study area.
- record sightings data
You will use paper data sheets or a Windows-based app on a tablet computer to record data.
- interpret porpoises and conservation issues
You will have the opportunity to chat with park visitors about your work, porpoises and related conservation issues if they ask you what you are doing.
- help with outreach events
You will have the option to help with outreach efforts for e.g. International Save the Vaquita Day, conferences, community events, volunteer fairs, etc.
- able to travel to Whytecliff Park, West Vancouver
We do not provide transportation. You will have to travel to the study site (currently only Whytecliff Park) on your own, or with other volunteers.
- able to work in all weather
We work throughout the year, and sometimes that means working in at times harsh weather. You have to be able to deal with rain, wind, the sun.
- commit to at least 1 shift of 2 hours per month for at least 6 months
MMO volunteers must work in pairs, but a shift can take place any time of the day, during daylight hours.
- informal training on site: how to spot porpoises, study protocol, data recording
This covers the basic questions: What is this study about, how do spot porpoises and identify behaviours? How do you report and record data?
- natural history interpretation
This covers the basics of interpretation; how to interact with the public, interpret porpoises & conservation issues, science to the general public.
- Marine Mammal Observer course in spring
This course, prepared by porpoise researcher Dr. Anna Hall is free for our MMO volunteers.
- ongoing training (online)