Subject: Jobs

Pieter Folkens (
Sat, 1 Mar 1997 10:00:26 -0700

>Dear Mary,

>        I am a recent graduate in marine biology. I have always had a strong
>interest in marine mammals and hope to pursue a career in marine
>research. Initially I choose to study marine science in pursuit of a
>career studying marine mammals. I have a strong research backround with
>a passion for cetaceans and conservation. I just completed my honours
>year at James Cook University in Northern Queensland and have just
>returned to Canada. At present I am looking for information regarding
>jobs in marine mammal research and/or postgradute opportunities. Please
>email any information with regards to this issue.

The Society for Marine Mammalogy has a small publication on pursuing
careers in marine mammalogy. Are you a member? The publication can be had
from Glenn Vanblairicom, the membership chair for the Society.

If you are looking to further your studies I can recommend Bernd Wursig's
program at Texas A&M University. Many of the people there (including Bernd)
came from UC Santa Cruz which has a softened marine mammal program since
Ken Norris retired. Bruce Mate's program at Oregon State University is also

Work possibilities come from three sectors: academia (universities and
museums), government and the private (usually) non profit organizations.
Very few corporations hire full time marine mammalogists.

During my 5 years in academia (University of California, SC, Division of
Natural History) I found the politics stifeling, particularly in the area
of funding and personnel. There are few openings for positions in academia
as turnover is low and people with positions like the security and tend to
hold them for a life-time.

Museums are fun places to work, but funding is horrendous.

Government(s) offer more possibilities including positions from
interpreters in a park program to directed research for policy development.
Freedom to persue personal ideas can be limited in Government. Many of the
researchers I know who now hold government jobs started as POP (Platforms
of Opportunity) and NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) observers --
hard work for little money, but a start.

Many of the NPOs (Non Profit Organizations, also Not-for-Profit
Organizations) were started by researchers as a way of operating
independently of government and academia. Some were established to receive
government contracts. These include Cascadia Research and West Coast Whale
Researchers and hire outside researchers as needed on a per contract basis.
The people they hire tend to be school buddies or other colleagues with
whom a relationship has already been established. Others seek funding from
private eeliomosinary sources. (Center for Whales Studies, Alaska Whale
Foundation, etc.). These latter types are generally built around one or two
researchers who use the venue to fund their own independent work.

It's good that you have a "passion for cetaceans and conservation" because
I know of no rich marine mammal researchers. I do recommend that you
involve yourself actively in the field. Volunteers often become paid staff
because they have proven themselves already and are in the right place at
the right time to make the most of an opportunity.

GFI (Go For It).


Pieter Folkens

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