Job Position: 
Volunteer work
Closing Date: 
Friday, September 29, 2017

I am a postdoctoral researcher in the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Queensland. I am looking for two volunteers to help me on my field trips to Orpheus Island Research Station in November to collect barrel sponges and conduct spawning and embryo culture experiments. The position includes accommodation, food, and travel to and from Townsville or Cairns. We will share cooking and housekeeping duties.

Who should apply? I am looking for reliable, adaptable, hard-working persons who are fit and confident divers. I will expect you to be organised and able to work independently. Some experience with research and laboratory work is a big plus. You should be able to maintain a positive and energetic attitude and be able to work with others.

You need to have:

  • One of the following diving certifications: Rescue Diver, Dive Master, Occupational Diver (AS2815), AQF Scientific Diver. 
  • A boat license (Australian Recreational Ship Masters License or equivalent).
  • A Dive Log Book, with dives countersigned, validating a minimum experience of 30 hours underwater, excluding training dives.
  • A current First Aid certificate (< 3 years).
  • A current CPR / Oxygen Provider certificate (<12 months).
  • An Occupational Diver dive medical certificate (AS 2299) (<12 months).
  • A Marine Radio Operators (VHF) Certificate of Proficiency (not essential).

We will consider covering the costs of dive medicals and Oxygen certificates. If you intend to use your own SCUBA diving gear (regulator, BCD), you must supply evidence of a recent service (<12 months). Otherwise, I can provide dive gear.

Research Plan: For about a week, the three of us will be doing single or double dives each day around high tide to collect sponges. You will take turns diving and being boat watch with the other volunteer. We will set up sponges in tanks and monitor them for spawning. Then, I would like one of the volunteers to remain on the island to monitor the sponges for health and spawning. The other volunteer and I will go home and be on call to come back as soon as the sponges spawn. When the sponges do spawn, the volunteer on the island will (1) set up the embryos in dishes for culturing and (2) let me know so that myself and the other volunteer can make our way back to Lucinda (boat pick-up harbour) that day. When the three of us are back on the island, we will remain there for ~10 days to conduct experiments culturing and preserving sponge embryos, as well as dive to monitor spawning and return the sponges.

Expected dates: Our collecting week will likely take place from October 26 to November 3 (possibly earlier if I see the ocean temperature is rising early). I expect the sponges to spawn sometime between November 3 and November 21 based on 6 years of observations. The last two years, spawning occurred on November 17 and November 19. If this is the case again, we can expect to be on the island until the end of November. Unfortunately, this unpredictability is the nature of spawning so volunteers have to be flexible with dates. I need one volunteer who is willing to stay on Orpheus for a month (Oct 26 – Nov 30) but possibly less, and one volunteer who is available to stay on Orpheus Oct 26 – Nov 3 and then is available to be on call to come for another 10 days some time in November.

What to expect: Orpheus Island is a beautiful remote tropical island, which is a National Park. There is a beautiful sunset and a couple of different tracks to explore the island. Great snorkeling is possible swimming out from the research station and, if time permits, we will also have the opportunity to explore remote snorkeling spots on our boat trips. That said, you should be aware that it is not the most comfortable place to live – it can be very hot and we have to apply bug spray regularly because of sand flies and mosquitoes. The first collecting week, a typical day would see us on the boat 2 to 4 hours and working in the lab or aquarium 1 to 3 hours. Please be aware that we will be doing some heavy lifting (dive tanks, bins with animals in water). The volunteer staying by themselves on the island will only be working in the morning. In contrast, the last 10 days after the sponges have spawned we will be working long days.

Application process: Please email me telling me about your relevant qualifications and experience, as well as contact details of at least two relevant referees (preferably phone numbers) to Dr CLAIRE LARROUX (Email: clarroux [at] You are welcome to also send your CV. A decision will be taken before the application closing date if appropriate candidates are found.

Contact Name: 
Claire Larroux
Contact Email: 
Job Location: 
Orpheus Island (North Queensland)