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New England Aquarium

Research Assistant, Aerial Observer

We are seeking a highly motivated Aerial Observer Research Assistant to participate in aerial surveys for whales, dolphins and sea turtles in 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 other observers and the flight crew; and analysis of vertical photographs for the detection and identification of marine mammal and turtle species. The majority of fieldwork will be aerial, although there may be opportunities to get involved in shipboard surveys with collaborators. Flying schedules will cover dates throughout the year including weekends and holidays. The successful applicant will be required to attend and satisfactorily complete aircraft and marine safety and survival training.


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


  1. Participate in all aerial survey activities, including observer logistics, scientific data collection, monthly reporting, photographic and data analysis, and ground contact.
  2. Act as aerial observer on surveys for cetaceans and sea turtles, including participating in aerial photography.
  3. Maintain safety and camera equipment and assist with preparation and in-flight troubleshooting.
  4. Maintain flight and data logs, assist with data quality checking and assurance, assist with summarizing data and writing reports.
  5. Photo-analysis of digital imagery for species detection and identifications, data processing and analysis.
  6. Assist with right whale photo-identification and catalog processing.
  7. Performs other position-related duties, as assigned.

Minimum Training and Experience

  • A or B.S in Biology or related science.
  • Minimum of six months previous aerial and/or boat survey experience.
  • Demonstrated skill in identifying marine mammals of New England.
  • Good communication and coordination skills.
  • Ability to meet deadlines for data and report deliverables.
  • Specialized photographic skills including previous experience using digital SLR cameras, especially for wildlife photography.
  • Photo-identification experience strongly desired.
  • 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 program
  • Familiarity with digital photography equipment and field use
  • Proficient in Microsoft Office programs
  • Experience with statistical software, programming, or GIS would be advantageous
  • Applicant must be able to thrive in a small team environment, which includes spending up to six hours seated in a small aircraft. Applicant must be able to apply basic methods of data collection; possess acute attention to detail; apply problem solving techniques to troubleshoot in-flight equipment issues; swim sufficiently to save oneself; lift and operate photographic equipment while aircraft is circling.


New England Aquarium is committed to diversity in the workplace and is an Equal Employment Opportunity Employer as defined by the EEOC.
For more information and to apply online please visit: https://neaq.applicantpro.com/jobs/

How to Apply

For more information, or to apply now, you must go to the website below. Please DO NOT email your resume to us as we only accept applications through our website. https://www.applicantpro.com/j/1315110-11570

New England Aquarium
Boston, MA 02110

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