Masters Student In-Field Placement, Maldives

Masters Student Project – Sea turtle habitat use around Hithadhoo, Laamu atoll

Reference: LM-S1
Application Deadline: 31May 2022
Start Date: 20 July 2022

Duration: 3 Months
Location: Six Senses, Laamu Atoll, Maldives

This is an unpaid placement with meals and accommodation provided.
International flights must be covered by the successful candidate.

About ORP

The Olive Ridley Project (ORP) is on a mission to protect sea turtles and their habitats through rescue and rehabilitation, scientific research, and education and outreach. At the core of our work is a passionate and dedicated team of scientists, conservationists, citizen scientists and volunteers. We pride ourselves in being able to collaborate with a wide range of diverse groups in order to reach our goal and fill data gaps in sea turtle conservation. The charity is at the forefront of sea turtle conservation, influencing local policy makers, working with fishing communities, and collaborating with research institutes. We currently have bases in Maldives, Oman, Kenya, Pakistan and Seychelles.

Our Research

One area of our research is using Photo-ID methods to look at population stability, nesting activity and the spatial distribution of sea turtles in the Indian Ocean. We have one of the largest turtle-ID databases in the world with over 30,000 observations, and work with an international team of experts to improve the method.

ORP in Laamu

In 2018, ORP partnered with Six Senses Laamu, based in Laamu Atoll in the Maldives. Together, we are looking for an enthusiastic masters student to join the team on the island for a three-month in-field placement to conduct a study on the habitat use of sea turtles around the island of Hithadhoo.
 
In Laamu, we are part of the award-winning conservation group, Maldives Underwater Initiative (MUI), one of the largest marine biology teams in the country. MUI includes Six Senses marine biologists, and researchers from partner NGOs Manta Trust and Blue Marine Foundation.

Masters Student Project Description

Hithadhoo Corner is a popular dive site with an array of shark, rays, and turtle sightings making it a notable megafauna hotspot in Laamu Atoll. Green sea turtles (endangered) and hawksbill turtles (critically endangered) are both sighted at Hithadhoo Corner frequently. However, what is most notable are the adult green sea turtles generally found resting beside or beneath a cleaning station. 2-8 turtles can be sighted at Hithadhoo Corner within one dive alone, which is rare in the Maldives. With over 8 years of encounter data from Laamu, we can identify individual turtles from the site, as well as the specific spots they are frequently sighted on.
 
This study of the Hithadhoo turtle population especially focuses on how their behaviour shifts with environmental conditions. The aim is to understand the turtles’ habitat use,and how their preferred resting spots shift based on their interactions with one another.
 
The masters student will create a study of this population, conduct in water surveys recording sea turtle photo-ID and behaviour data, collect environmental data such as currents, and incorporate the analysis of existing datasets from previous years into the study.

requirements

The successful masters student candidate will possess the following qualifications and skills:

  • Bachelor’s degree in marine biology, zoology, environmental science or related field
  • Must be currently enrolled in a Masters program at an internationally recognized institution
  • Fluent in spoken and written English
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Qualified SCUBA diver (Advanced Open Water or equivalent and above preferred)
  • Knowledge of, and a passion for, the marine environment and conservation

Assets

  • Experience in swimming or diving in strong currents
  • Own UW camera equipment
  • Knowledge of, and a passion for, the sea turtle conservation
  • Experience handling large datasets, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.
  • Prior knowledge of R statistical language and analyses
  • Knowledge of GIS or similar mapping software.
     

Benefits

  • A 3 month in-field adventure in the beautiful island nation of Maldives
  • Supervised data & fieldwork experience for Master’s Thesis (details will be discussed during the interview)
  • Return domestic flight Malé International Airport to Six Senses Laamu
  • Shared accommodation (4-share for girls, 8-share for boys with separate cubicles)
  • 3 meals per day at the host canteen
  • Access to the host gym
  • Opportunistic dives to Hithadhoo Corner and other turtle monitoring sites

How to apply

If you are a masters student interested in joining us of this placement, please forward your current CV, along with a covering letter to stephanie@oliveridleyproject.org. Please include Reference LM-S1 in your email subject line.

Please note that only successful candidates will be contacted.

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