Sightings Officer (138 views)

New Quay, Wales
January 18, 2018

The Sea Watch Foundation is a long-established national UK marine environmental research charity concerned with monitoring the numbers and distribution of whales, dolphins and porpoises in the seas around the British Isles, as well as investigating the conservation threats that they face. In the 1970s, its Director pioneered cetacean “Citizen Science”, a special partnership between scientists and trained volunteer observers drawn from all walks of life, which has created the largest and longest-running cetacean sightings database in Europe.

We are looking for a Sightings Officer to work alongside Sea Watch’s Cardigan Bay Monitoring Officer and (from Apr-Oct) a team of interns. The successful candidate will be based in Sea Watch’s field office in New Quay, Ceredigion, West Wales.

Liaising with the Director and other staff, the key responsibilities are to 1) support and develop Sea Watch’s network of observers; 2) increase the amount of useful sightings data (particularly from effort-related observations), and 3) facilitate public awareness and education through the regular dissemination of environmental information.   

Visit our web site to learn more about us:

Minimum Requirement: A university degree in biological science or a related subject

Preferred Experience: Applicants having knowledge & direct experience with cetaceans

Desirable Knowledge, Skills and Abilities:

  • Highly organised and conscientious
  • Accustomed to a high and varied workload
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • Experience managing volunteers
  • Ability to enthuse others through written word and face to face
  • Experience managing volunteers
  • Passion for conservation and research
  • Proven social media experience
  • Data management experience
  • Experience of events management
  • Public speaking experience
  • Basic knowledge of GIS, production of graphs/histograms from sightings data

Job Title: Sightings Officer

Job Location: Sea Watch Foundation Field Office, Paragon House, Wellington Place, New Quay, Ceredigion SA45 9NR

Hours: 40 hours per week. Usually 9am-6pm, but flexible working hours are required to cover some evening work, public holidays and weekends from time to time.

Salary: £20,000 p.a.  (+ Pension scheme).

Closing date for applicants: Sun 4th February 2018 (applications will be assessed between 5th – 10th Feb, and interviews of short-listed candidates will take place on 14th & 15th  Feb). 

Start Date: March 2018.

Job description: Duties include:

Development and Maintenance of UK Observer Network

  • Recruitment of new observers throughout the UK, and feedback of information and advice to current contributors of sightings
  • Distribution of training aids and advice to potential observers
  • Regular support & liaison with Regional Coordinators, with occasional visits to coastal regions to support local efforts to develop monitoring, information exchange, and local fund-raising. Review with regional co-ordinators the best approaches for strengthening the observer network
  • Promotion, support and liaison with others to encourage data collection from land and boats around the UK


  • Participation in delivering training courses for students, regional co-ordinators, and prospective observers on techniques of quantitative monitoring, species identification, and photo-ID
  • Organisation of and reporting on the annual National Whale & Dolphin Watch held usually in late July/early August
  • Supporting local observers for the annual Orca Watch event held in late May in North Scotland
  • Administration of Sea Watch’s Recommended Boat Operator Scheme

Public Awareness and Education

  • Content management of an active website, including linked social media, to serve as a prime medium of communication to observers, initiating regular dissemination of new information, and recruiting new observers. Maintenance of static content and regular updating with news items, recent sightings, etc
  • Taking part in educational and outreach events, and school visits, providing supervision and support for the Education Assistant
  • Attending meetings and giving public lectures on behalf of Sea Watch, liaising with other like-minded organisations
  • Preparation and dissemination of news releases for the media on major stories of environmental interest and writing articles for specialist magazines
  • Responding to email correspondence & telephone queries from interested parties

Sightings Data Collation

  • Compilation of sightings data in a standardised format for entry into the Sea Watch database


Other duties

  • Supervision of residential interns, most specifically the Education and Outreach Assistant and the National Whale and Dolphin Watch Assistant
  • Assistance with supervising students and other volunteers in New Quay, and supporting Monitoring Officer on some survey trips
  • Participation in the development and running of the new “Members and Supporters” scheme
  • Arranging the charity’s annual AGM
  • Participation in fundraising activities and promotion of Adopt a Dolphin campaign
  • General support to the Director