Ocean Career: Point Blue Conservation Science Laboratory Research Assistant

Point Blue Conservation Science is a growing and internationally renowned non-profit with over 160 staff and scientists based in Petaluma, California. Founded in 1965 as Point Reyes Bird Observatory, our mission and programs have evolved over time to include a broad range of conservation activity, from restoration to environmental education to innovative work in the field of regenerative agriculture.

We have a proven track record of scientific excellence.

Position Description:

We are seeking a Laboratory Research Assistant for marine predator diet studies, zooplankton research, data-related tasks, and outreach activities at our Petaluma, California Headquarters.

Our studies determine size class and species composition of prey consumed by seabirds and California sea lions, and we examine krill and their relationships with seabirds and other top-predator populations in the Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries.

Main laboratory duties include:

Identifying otoliths and other fish parts from diet samples (regurgitated pellets and fecal samples) of Brandt’s cormorants, least terns, and California sea lions; identifying zooplankton taxa and age classes from diet samples (regurgitations) of Cassin’s auklets; preparing zooplankton samples and identifying, weighing, and measuring krill, copepods, and other important zooplankton groups; collecting species composition and size data on prey specimens dropped on seabird breeding colonies; entering and proofing data; and helping to compile information from 50+ years of seabird studies on the Farallon Islands.

Other duties include:

Assisting with the bi-monthly Farallon Island patrol runs, which includes packing and transporting supplies to/from local marinas, taking Farallon compost to a local farm, and keeping patrol run containers clean and organized; participating in online outreach activities (mainly Instagram Live events); and training and supervising seasonal interns and laboratory volunteers. There may be opportunities for field work, such as participating in at-sea surveys in the Gulf of the Farallones (duties include assisting in net tows, collecting hydrographic data, and conducting seabird and marine mammal surveys), and/or participating in nest surveys of an endangered California least tern colony in San Francisco Bay (duties include walking through colony with permitted biologists, marking nests, collecting data, and collecting diet samples to be analyzed in the lab).


  • Preference will be given to candidates who have a degree in biology or related field and prior laboratory research experience.
  • Applicants should enjoy working independently and have plenty of patience for long hours spent looking through a scope to identify cryptic fish ear bones and scales, little marine bugs, and contorted, dried-up fish chips.
  • Must have your own transportation method to/from the office since transportation is not provided.

Learn more about this opportunity and how to apply.

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