Volunteer Research Assistant Opportunities on Southeast Farallon Island

Point Blue has been studying the wildlife and natural history of Southeast Farallon Island since 1968. The 96-acre rocky island is located 27 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, within a productive upwelling region near the edge of the continental shelf. The Farallon Islands host the largest seabird breeding colony in the contiguous United States (over 300,000 seabirds of 13 species), are an important haul-out and breeding site for 5 species of Pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), and are a unique feeding location for white sharks. In addition, the islands host an endemic plant, salamander, and insects, and represent a key a stopover site for hundreds of species of migrant and vagrant landbirds. The diversity of research conducted on the Farallones provides young career scientists with an opportunity to gain a wide array of experience in wildlife observation, handling, and data collection. Volunteer Research Assistantships on Southeast Farallon Island are offered through Point Blue during one of the three research seasons: winter, spring / summer, and fall.

Duration: The minimum duration of assistantships is 8 weeks. Maximum duration is up to 5 months (spring / summer season), with several breaks from the island.

Description: The winter season (December – March) primarily involves research on breeding elephant seals, the spring / summer season (March – August) focuses on breeding seabird studies, and the fall season (August – December) focuses on migrant landbird research.

Qualifications: While each season involves different duties and levels of wildlife identification and monitoring experience, all require conducting rigorous fieldwork, often in inclement weather on difficult terrain. Research assistants must be highly self-motivated, organized, work well both alone and as part of a team, and eager to spend long hours (and sometimes nights) in the field. In addition, all will assist in maintenance of the field camp, cooking duties, data entry, and proofing.

Compensation: All research assistantships on Southeast Farallon Island are volunteer positions. Excellent food and housing are provided while on the island. Transportation to San Francisco, and to Petaluma where our main office is located, is not provided.

To Apply: Please submit a cover letter stating why you would like to be considered for a research assistant position and describing your past field work, along with a resume or CV including three references to the following:

  • For winter elephant seal research assistantships (Dec-Mar) contact Pete Warzybok beginning in August.  You must have previous field experience with marine mammals to be considered for this position.
  • For spring/summer seabird research assistantships (Mar – Aug) contact Pete Warzybok beginning in December. Prior experience handling birds and conducting observational studies is desired. 2024 season position description.
  • For fall songbird research assistantships (Aug – Dec) please fill out this google form beginning in May. You must have field experience with bird identification (by sight and sound), mist-netting, and songbird banding to be considered for this position.