Whale and Dolphin scientific research, marine conservation and educational outreach

Project name:

Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit (CRRU)

Project purpose:

Based in northeast Scotland, the CRRU is a marine conservation charity dedicated to the study, conservation and understanding of UK whales, dolphins and porpoises (cetaceans) through scientific research, environmental education and the provision of a voluntary veterinary rescue service for marine wildlife in distress.

Project activities:

  • data collection/analysis

  • marine mammal science

  • teaching

Marine

United Kingdom

Europe

Weekly cost (approx USD):

$

1000

Direct benefits you gain:

  • field research skills

  • gain a qualification and/or credit

  • remote scenic location

  • direct contact with experienced cetacean field scientists

  • seminars and optional guided tours

Noteworthy conservation points:

  • contributes to environmental policy

  • development goals (supporting local community)

  • publishes peer-reviewed science

  • publishes work

Accommodation:

Project staff and recruits will be accommodated together in one of two comfortable rented accommodations. The modernized accommodations will typically be furnished with a communal eating area/lounge, television, media player, music system etc. Bedrooms may be shared with one or two other persons. Single gender rooms and rooms for couples will not always be possible, although sleeping arrangements can be accommodated prior to the beginning of your expedition.

Requirements:

  • Enthusiasm and the ability and willingness to learn and work under often difficult (but rewarding) field conditions. 

  • Open-minded to work, live and communicate with other people of mixed nationality and background.

Facilities:

accommodation included, food included, cooking facilities, electricity, local shops, near-by medical, refillable drinking water, hot shower, western toilet, wifi. All participants MUST bring their own sleeping bags, pillowcases and towels, as these will not be provided by the project, although additional blankets and emergency bedding can be provided when necessary. You will also need to be flexible in sharing bathroom facilities with your house mates.

Details of the day-to-day life on the project:

This project provides you with an exceptional opportunity to become actively involved in field activities related to the conservation and protection of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in NE Scotland. As long-lived mammals with low reproductive rates, clear assessments of the status of cetacean populations in UK waters require long term and on-going studies.

Scientists no longer have the luxury of studying whales and dolphins just to learn more about them. Today they must learn more about them simply to protect them, and, as a participant on this project, your mission will be to assist a dynamic team of marine biologists in this cause.

Located on the southern coastline of Scotland’s spectacular Moray Firth, you will
be fully incorporated - as an essential member of the research team - in field studies of these exquisite creatures: monitoring their numbers and distribution; studying their behaviour and social dynamics; and identifying individual animals, their status and site fidelity. Primary concentration will be focused on an individually-identifiable population of bottlenose dolphins that spend a large proportion of the year in the study area. Isolated at the northern extreme of the species range, this population of bottlenose dolphins – one of only two “resident” populations in British waters – is of national and international importance. Other cetacean species you may be lucky enough to encounter include harbour porpoises, minke whales, Atlantic white-sided dolphins, common dolphins, pilot whales and possibly even orca or humpbacks (as well as many other marine and coastal-dwelling creatures, such as grey and common seals, basking sharks,
turtles and ocean sunfish).

In addition to your involvement in essential fieldwork, you will also have the
opportunity to receive instruction in marine mammal rescue techniques. Affiliated with the UK Marine Animal Rescue Coalition, the Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit (CRRU) operates a fully trained, 24-hour marine mammal rescue team. Should an actual rescue situation occur, you might be expected to assist the team at short notice (sometimes even during the night).

Working in small teams, you will undoubtedly learn a lot about the whales and
dolphins commonly seen in this haven area of Scotland - how to identify them, the conservation issues that drive research initiatives to protect them, and how to help them during a live stranding situation. In short, you can expect an exciting programme rich in experience and personal satisfaction and an enjoyable introduction to whale and dolphin identification, data collection and marine mammal rescue.

How long can I stay?

Fixed 12 days taught field course, total course cost $1600

When does the project run?

May to October

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Reviews & ratings

Hannah Cole

I had a fantastic time working with the CRRU last year and met some great people who I know will be contacts for life. It was great fun being out on the boat, learning loads of new skills and ID which I know will help me out in the future for job prospects! Thanks for a great time Kev and the rest of the CRRU team!

Volunteer

Great experience

Christina Unger

The CRRU is a great team, very dedicated and exactly the right mixture of being professional and fun. They welcomed me despite my obvious lack of any background in marine mammal science or conservation, and I learned an immense amount of things during my stay there -- not only about the cetaceans in the Moray Firth, how to photo ID them, what to do in case of a stranding, and how to steer a boat through rough waves, but also what it means to dedicate yourself to conservation. It was an intense, inspiring and fun experience, and without exaggeration one of the best things I ever did.

This is as real as it gets

This is as real as it gets