Cetacean Observer/Passive Acoustic Technician; Lynker Technologies LLC

Job Title: 
Cetacean Observer/Passive Acoustic Technician
Job Location: 
Kodiak, Alaska
Full-Time - Temporary


Lynker is seeking up to 6 cetacean observers/passive acoustic technicians to support the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), Alaska Fisheries Science Center’s (AFSC) field assessments for marine mammals in the Gulf of Alaska as part of the Pacific Marine Assessment Program for Protected Species (PacMAPPS).


Cetacean observers/passive acoustic technicians will assist with data collection during a large-scale, vessel-based, line transect cetacean survey in the Gulf of Alaska. The work will occur during 21 July - 3 September 2021 (~30 days and associated 7-day pre-survey COVID Shelter-in-Place (SIP) before survey start). In addition to the role as a visual observer or passive acoustic technician, personnel may be required to assist with the collection and processing of tissue samples, taking photographs of encountered cetacean groups, deploying satellite tags on select species, or other tasks while at sea.  Observations are typically carried out in a 2-hr rotation, with each cetacean observer serving for 40 minutes observing through big eye binoculars on the left side (forward to beam), 40 minutes in a center data recorder position, and 40 minutes observing through the right-side big eyes, followed by 2 hours of rest.


Key tasks include the following:

  • Responsible for ensuring that the observation or other data collection equipment required for their work is functioning properly during mobilization, prior to the start of the survey, and on each survey day, and assist in troubleshooting or repairing equipment as requested by the NMFS Survey Leader.
  • Attend training and coordination meetings while in port and assist with mobilization tasks and set-up of assigned equipment prior to commencement of the survey and as requested by the NMFS Survey Leader during the survey. Some training may be carried out virtually.
  • Required to follow the instructions of the ship’s Commanding Officer or Captain and NMFS Survey Leader, participate in weekly (or more frequent) safety drills, be courteous toward and respectful of all staff aboard the ship adhering to NMFS Harassment Policy (ship’s Command, crew, and fellow scientists) and AFSC Code of Conduct, and clean up assigned berthing spaces, science spaces, and communal spaces as directed by the NMFS Survey Leader or ship’s officers, and report all incidents of injury or inappropriate behavior to the NMFS Survey Leader or the ship’s officers.
  • Assist with break-down, inventory, and packing of assigned equipment at the completion of the survey effort or on the day the vessel arrives back in port.



At a minimum, all candidates should have a Bachelor's degree. Staff are expected to work 12 hours per day, 7 days per week, including weekends and holidays while at sea. Shorter work days (8 hours) are required while in port.


Cetacean observers (Expert)

  • At least 12 months cumulative experience working as a cetacean observer from large (>100 ft.) vessels, including prolonged searching (up to 40 minutes at a time) through big-eye (25-power) mounted binoculars during systematic line-transect data collection efforts. Experience should be in the Gulf of Alaska, or in an area that includes the same key large whale species (offshore Washington/Oregon/California in the North Pacific, or offshore New England in the western North Atlantic). Experience working as a collaborative team within a large multi-disciplinary field effort.
  • Proficiency using visual observation data collection software such as WinCruz.
  • Experience in photographing cetaceans for photo identification and in archiving digital photographs of marine mammals.
  • Knowledge of cetacean biology and taxonomy and practical application of line-transect methodologies.
  • Skilled at identifying cetaceans to species level including cryptic beaked whales.
  • Experience preparing datasets and scientific reports on cetaceans.
  • Demonstrated experience estimating group size as part of cetacean surveys, supporting an ability to accurately estimate group size.
  • Experience directing ship and small vessel movement based on the behavior and location of cetacean groups.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.


Additional preferred qualifications for Cetacean observers include:

  • Experience in identifying cetacean species found in the Gulf of Alaska
  • Experience collecting biopsy samples from wild cetaceans using a crossbow and processing of collected samples for freezer storage.
  • Experience preparing and deploying satellite tags on wild medium and large-sized cetaceans from a small boat.
  • Experience working as a cetacean observer on a NOAA research vessel.
  • Reference from prior employer indicating capability to serve as a lead cetacean observer within a 6-person observer team.

Cetacean observer (Novice/Intermediate)

  • At least some experience working as a cetacean observer on shore or vessel-based platforms
  • Skilled at identifying cetaceans to species level, particularly in the North Pacific
  • Familiarity with using visual observation data collection software such as WinCruz
  • Able to work as a team with other cetacean observers and ship crew


Survey Cruise Participation Requirements:

All staff must meet the following the requirements for sailing aboard NOAA vessels:

  • Must have medical insurance and at-sea emergency evacuation insurance.
  • Must be medically cleared to sail aboard NOAA vessels 30 days prior to cruise departure. Such clearance requires a current tetanus booster, proof of a negative TB test, and submission of specific medical information to NOAA Health Services.
  • Must provide emergency contact information for the duration of the survey.
  • Must submit to and pass a NOAA background check, including providing fingerprints and other personal information (or proof of current background investigation). The background check may take up to 30 days and must be completed 30 days prior to the start of the survey.
  • Must obtain any passes needed to access NOAA Research Vessels.
  • Must abide by all required COVID-19 mitigation procedures prior to and during the mission. This may include specific travel requirements, pre-departure isolation or shelter-in-place prior to sailing, use of face coverings in all public spaces, and all other Federal, State, local, or research vessel-imposed COVID-19 mitigation and testing procedures.

If the contractor employee is not a U.S. citizen, the contractor employee shall:

  • Hold or obtain all visas and other documentation required for work in the U.S. prior to joining the survey.
  • Provide required information for NOAA foreign national clearance 45 days prior to joining the survey.
  • Coordinate with the Contracting Officer’s Representative (COR) to ensure that foreign nationals are able to participate in all survey activities


About Lynker

Lynker Technologies, LLC is a growing, Hub-zone certified small business specializing in professional, scientific and technical services. Our continually expanding team combines scientific expertise with mature, results-driven processes and tools to achieve technically sound, cost effective solutions in hydrology/water sciences, geospatial analysis, information technology, resource management, conservation, and management and business process improvement.


We focus on putting the right people in the right place to be effective. And having the right people is critical for success. Our streamlined organization enables and empowers our talented professionals to tackle our customers’ scientific and technical priorities – creatively and effectively.


Lynker offers a team-oriented work environment, competitive salaries and benefits, and the opportunity to work in a culture of exceptionally skilled and diverse professionals who embrace sound science and creative solutions.


Lynker is an E-Verify employer.


Lynker Technologies is proud to be an Equal Opportunity Employer and encourages women, minorities, individuals with disabilities and veterans to apply.

Please note that all jobs are automatically removed once the application deadline passes. Jobs without a deadline are automatically removed after 30 days.