The call for field assistants for the 2017 field season is now open!
In 2017, Sharks And Rays Australia will host ten expeditions to various river systems in Queensland’s Gulf of Carpentaria and the Cape York Peninsula. We are looking for highly motivated field assistants who would like to join our small expedition teams, to get hands-on experience in working with aquatic predators in remote locations.
Each expedition will run for 11 to 14 days each between February and November 2017. You will be part of a small team working with some of the most endangered species of sharks, rays and sawfish on the planet. For more information on our research goals see here. The aims of our 2017 expeditions are mixed: Some are exploratory, sampling rivers in which sawfishes have or have not been documented before. Other expeditions will have specific goals, like deploying daily diaries and live-tracking sawfish. The sampling methods used will include gill netting and setting of drum lines. Our equipment and fieldwork protocols ensure that capture and handling stress for each animal is minimized. Any shark, ray and sawfish captured will be tagged and released.
For 2017, we have two different streams for assistants, with prices being adjusted to account for your qualifications relevant to our work. People with no or little fieldwork and boating experience should apply for the ‘general stream’. This stream suits people who want to gain experience in fieldwork, animal handling, and remote region work.
If you have qualifications in boat driving (licence and experience compulsory – no exceptions!), working in remote locations and also animal handling (preferably shark handling experience as well as tagging experience) you might qualify for a team leader position (1-2 per expedition). Team leaders will receive training additional to the research induction and be taking over some of our sampling sessions. In order to be considered for a team leader position, please indicate this in your application form and attach a CV and cover letter to your application. Please be advised that applicants for team leader positions will receive preference if the applicant can commit to joining two expeditions in 2017.
Field site & expedition information
Southern Gulf expeditions: Our fieldwork locations in the southern Gulf of Carpentaria are more accessible than those up north, as Cairns and Normanton are connected via a bitumen road. The drive typically takes 7 – 8 hrs, and there are several outback towns along the way with campgrounds. Once in Normanton, we have a few choices of locations, including heading towards the NT border to Burketown or north to the rivers that run through Delta Downs Indigenous cattle station. The rivers that we might be working in include the Gilbert, Norman, Bynoe and Flinders, Leichhardt, Albert, and Nicholson Rivers. We will be joined in the field by the Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers of CLCAC (Carpentaria Land Council Aboriginal Corporation).
Which river we access depends on the availability of the Indigenous Rangers and also on accessibility. Flooding can occur in different rivers until May. However, as sawfish are more active at the beginning and end of the wet seasons, we aim to sample as many different rivers during this time. The southern Gulf of Carpentaria might represent a hot spot for sawfish. The country that we work on can be anything from private cattle stations to land that is under exclusive Native Title.
Generally during these expeditions we only camp in campgrounds on our way to our fieldwork location. Once on location we camp in the bush and are self-sufficient. During the expedition to Normanton/Karumba towards the end of the year we will be renting air conditioned cabins, as the temperatures in the Southern Gulf at this time of the year soar and make camping uncomfortable.
Mid- Gulf expeditions (Kowanyama and Pormpuraaw): These two Indigenous communities are located about half way along the west coast of the Gulf of Carpentaria. The country that we will be accessing is under exclusive Native Title and so we will be working closely with Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers as well as Traditional Land Owners (TOs). Expeditions will be both exploratory (sampling rivers that we have not sampled before) as well as targeting sawfish for our “Daily Diary” study. We will also be visiting the Indigenous artist of Pormpuraaw, who make large sculptures of sawfish and sharks out of ghost netting materials, or the Kowanyama Cultural Museum, which is currently not officially open to the public. The curator has collected a multitude of artefacts in one of the largest collections in Australia that create a deeper understanding of Indigenous cultures in the area and the impact of white settlement. Access to both communities is by dirt road only, which can easily become impassable after heavy rains. We therefore always maintain the right to change the research location without notice.
During these expeditions there are no public campgrounds and we are self-sufficiently camping in the bush near our sampling sites.
Northern Gulf Expeditions. These expeditions target field sites like the Wenlock / Ducie Rivers near Old Mapoon and rivers immediately south and north of it, all the way to the tip of Cape York Peninsula. Getting to our field sites requires a long drive from Cairns, most of which is along the unpaved Peninsula Developmental Road. The road conditions can vary throughout the year, which is why we take the drive easy and allow 2.5 days for it. We camp in campgrounds along the way. When working in the Wenlock River, we are likely to sample upstream and camp in the Steve Irwin Reserve for part of the expedition. During all expeditions, we will be self-sufficient camping in the bush.
East coast expedition. The expedition will target a river close to Cairns in the Wet Tropics region. The expedition is exploratory, as sawfish are only confirmed on the East coast of Queensland in very low numbers with their exact distributions unclear. However, similarly all sharks and rays captured will be tagged and released, according to our research protocol. We will return to a site that we have sampled in December 2015. Due to the time of the year we will be staying in air-conditioned cabins.
Dates and Prices: PLEASE BE ADVISED THAT SOME DATES/LOCATIONS HAVE CHANGED IN THE LAST WEEKS.
All prices include GST.
|Location||Date (2017)||Length||Contribution general stream (A$)||Contribution team leader
|Southern Gulf||April 2 – 12,||11 days||2400 pp||990 pp|
|Northern Gulf||May 9 – 22||14 days||2600 pp||990 pp|
|Southern Gulf||June 15 – 25||11 days||2400 pp||990 pp|
|Mid-Gulf||July 1 – 11||11 days||2400 pp||990 pp|
|Mid-Gulf||July 29 – August 8||11 days||2400 pp||990 pp|
|Southern Gulf||August 29 – September 7||11 days||2400 pp||990 pp|
|Southern Gulf||Sept 17 – 26||10 days||* not open to general public *|
|Northern Gulf * FULL *||October||14 days||2600 pp||990 pp|
|Southern Gulf||October 28 – November 7||11 days||2800 pp*||1320 pp*|
|East Coast||December 1 – 9||9 days||2100 pp**||990 pp**|
* The price of this particular expedition includes air-conditioned cabins for 9 out of 11 days.
** The price of this expedition includes air-conditioned cabins for all nights.