Humpback Whale Field Intensive Program in Turks and Caicos with the Marine and Coastal Ecology Research Center (MCERC) (and turtle ecology too!)

MCERC is partering with Salt Cay Divers for week-long sessions available between January 03- the end of March, 2017. Each week is limited to 4 spots and may be used as internship experience (for those desiring to use this opportunity as a CV builder). There is the likelihood of snorkeling with Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) during each session as we evaluate the in-water program in the local whale watching industry.

We are inviting people to join us for our research program where we are initiating a multi-year study of Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and the tourism industry, collect images for photo-ID to contribute to the North Atlantic Humpback Whale Catalog, and examine other questions related to seasonal occurrence patterns. The program will be incorporated into the snorkeling and boat whale watching programs to study the impact of a growing industry.

Participants in the program sessions will be collecting data under the guidance of a team of four research assistants. The sessions are Saturday through Saturday on Salt Cay, Turks and Caicos (TCI). Saturday and Sunday are free days to take advantage of activities available on Salt Cay, including diving, snorkeling, swimming, and beach walking on this beautiful island. Monday through Friday we will be on the water for whale watching trips with Salt Cay Divers, and snorkeling with Humpback Whales (when weather and the behavior of whales permits) while we collect data to answer specific questions. You will be an active part of the team collecting behavioral data, acoustic data of singing Humpback Whales, and locating groups of whales using directional hydrophones. This project is supporting the newly developing regulations for TCI’s Department of Environment and Maritime Affairs (DEMA). We will be collecting data on all cetacean species off TCI during boat trips.

Each day we will conduct roundtable discussions over peer reviewed publications. We will learn Humpback Whale ecology and evolutionary biology, incorporating policy, law, and conservation into the discussions. You will be instructed in software programs related to acoustic data analysis and matching fluke patterns. We will also collect data on other cetaceans off TCI, creating catalogs from our images and images shared by the local businesses. We will include free diving, snorkeling, and beach walks aimed at collecting data for DEMA’s long term turtle ecology study, effectively extending their research to the smaller islands. Participants will be attending the open discussions for TCI’s residents and tourists aimed at offering education outreach programs in support of local businesses.

The cost of this program is $900USD/week and covers three meals a day, a place to sleep, boat excursions Monday through Friday, and the field intensive curriculum. Bring your own snorkel gear for Saturday and Sunday or rent from Salt Cay Divers to take full advantage of your time on the island. The program fee does not include travel to and from Salt Cay, TCI.

For more details go to  To register, request passcodes to the Education Hub by emailing

There is no application process, and spots will be filled on a first-come, first served basis.

We are excited to be expanding our humpback whale research conducted off Puerto Rico, to the Turks and Caicos Islands.

We would love to have you join us!