Since 2014, the Marine Mammal Conservation Research Program’s Photogrammetry Study has used drone-based aerial photogrammetry to help assess the health of BC’s at-risk cetacean populations. The current mandates of this conservation-oriented program include (1) using drone-based aerial photogrammetry to assess seasonal and annual changes in the nutritional status of killer whales; (2) determining how these changes relate to prey availability and calving success; (3) sharing findings with DFO’s Marine Mammal Research and Salmon Management teams to help them efficiently target Chinook Salmon habitat restoration and harvest reduction actions in support of conservation plans; (4) engaging in conservation management by providing expert knowledge for local advisory boards, collaborating with stakeholder groups, and promoting public awareness; (5) developing photogrammetric analysis techniques to assess annual changes in the nutritional status of humpback whales and other cetaceans, and relate these variations to fluctuations in prey abundance and population health; (6) fulfilling administrative tasks including reporting, fundraising, capacity building, budgeting and obtaining research permits; (7) collaborating and supporting the Marine Mammal Conservation Research team.

 The Photogrammetry Research Assistant assists with achieving the core mandates of the Photogrammetry Study. Specifically, the Research Assistant will help organize and conduct intensive summer field research along the BC coast. General duties include operating and maintaining research vessels, serving as a visual observer during drone operations, collecting and sorting photo-ID images, assisting with general field camp duties, purchasing, inventorying and maintaining equipment, conducting photogrammetric analysis, writing blogs and social media postings.

The Photogrammetry Research Assistant is a member of the Marine Mammal Conservation Research Team, part of the Ocean Wise Conservation Association’ Whale Initiative. As such, they are responsible for communicating with, supporting and representing both the Marine Mammal Conservation Research Team and Ocean Wise.

 Please note the following important information:

  • This is 20-week position.
  • The position includes up to eight weeks of remote fieldwork – approximately four weeks along the central coast of BC in June and four weeks along northeastern Vancouver Island in August. Accommodation and food is provided during fieldwork.
  • The expected start date is May 31, 2021.
  • Possibility of contract extension.


 Assists with photogrammetry-based marine mammal research projects by:

  • Operating a 30-foot research vessel as required during photogrammetry research operations;
  • Identifying individual killer whales in real-time during field operations;
  • Visually observing all drone-related operations (e.g. watching the drone, looking out for manned aircraft, monitoring cetacean location during flights, etc.);
  • Collecting, identifying, and sorting photo-ID images of killer whales and humpback whales;
  • Assisting with photogrammetric measurements from aerial images;
  • General field camp duties (e.g. taking notes and filling in logbooks, shopping, sharing cooking and clean-up chores);
  • Conducting maintenance including light repairs to the research vessel and field equipment;
  • Purchasing field and lab equipment;
  • Other duties as required.


  • Promptly follows emergency protocols;
  • Maintains and supports organizational and laboratory safety standards;
  • Continually improves Ocean Wise’s impact on the environment and greening of operations through support of EMS protocols;
  • Actively demonstrates Ocean Wise’s values and code of conduct;
  • Abides by all organizational policies and procedures;
  • Performs additional duties as required.



 Education, Experience, and Certifications Required:

  • Small Vessel Operator’s Proficiency certificate (SVOP) or higher;
  • Marine Emergency Duties A2 or A3 certificate (MEDA2/3);
  • Marine Radio Operators Certificate (ROC-M);
  • First Aid certification;
  • Minimum two years experience operating vessels with an impeccable safety record;
  • Vessel maintenance experience;
  • Experience identifying cetaceans visually and with photo-identification;
  • Valid BC driver’s license;
  • Bachelor of Science in marine biology or a related field an asset;
  • Experience operating a vessel in Johnstone Strait and identifying northern resident killer whales an asset;
  • Basic or Advanced Transport Canada drone pilot certificate an asset;
  • Aeronautical Radio Operators Certificate (ROC-A) an asset.


  • Knowledge of BC killer whale behaviour and natural history;
  • Experience photo-identifying killer whales and humpback whales;
  • Experience operating a vessel around cetaceans;
  • Experience with DSLR cameras, photography, and photo software;
  • Experience with hydrophones and acoustic identification an asset;
  • Experience in Microsoft Word and Excel software;
  • Experience in R, Access, and/or ImageJ software an asset;
  • Sound judgment, discretion, and confidentiality;
  • Ability to work in a team environment in a wide variety of conditions;
  • Willing to work beyond job description to assist colleagues;
  • Active demonstration of the company’s values and mission;
  • Extreme safety consciousness an absolute requirement.

 Working Conditions

  • Photogrammetric analysis work will be performed at the incumbent’s home or in an open-concept office in Vancouver.
  • Will spend up to eight (8) weeks conducting vessel-based field research in remote locations.
  • Flexibility and availability in schedule are required during the week, including frequent weekends, evenings, and holidays. Will require weekend and holiday work during field research.
  • The incumbent may be exposed to gasoline or diesel fumes when fuelling research vessels in open-air fuel stations.
  • The incumbent will be required to safely lift and/or carry up to 30kg on a regular basis.
  • The job includes the risk of exposure to heat or cold stress while performing vessel-based fieldwork as well as exposure to slippery conditions and uneven, non-stable surfaces.
  • The incumbent will be expected to spend extended periods wearing a personal flotation device and other safety gear as conditions warrant.
  • Some of the fieldwork will be conducted in areas with no cellphone or data access.