Winter Farallon Biologist

Point Blue Conservation Science

Point Blue Conservation Science

San Francisco, CA, USA
Posted on Wednesday, August 10, 2022


Point Blue Conservation Science of Petaluma, CA is seeking applications for a full-time seasonal staff biologist in our Farallon Islands Program. Point Blue is an independent, scientific research non-profit whose mission is to conserve birds, other wildlife and ecosystems through science, partnerships, and outreach. We have been assessing changes in our environment and advancing conservation through bird and ecosystem studies since our founding as Point Reyes Bird Observatory in 1965. Under co-operative agreement with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Point Blue has conducted continuous research and stewardship of the unique natural resources of the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge since 1968.

The Farallon Islands are 30 miles west of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco and just a few miles from the continental shelf in the rich coastal upwelling region of Central California. The islands host globally significant breeding seabird populations (over 350,000 individuals of 13 species), are a major haul out and breeding site for 5 species of pinnipeds, and a key feeding site for White Sharks. The islands also host a variety of migrant landbirds, an endemic salamander population, and unique plant and insect communities. Most research on the Farallones involves continuous multi-decadal time series.

The Winter Farallon Biologist position runs from mid-November to mid-April including 16 weeks of remote field time per year living and working with a small group of research assistants and biologists on the Farallon Islands National Wildlife Refuge.   During this time, they are responsible for leading our ongoing studies of northern elephant seals and other Farallon wildlife, training research assistants, maintaining high quality data collection, and summarizing and interpreting data for reports and publications. Additional responsibilities include operating a small motorboat in open water conditions, maintenance of field station equipment and facilities, and fostering good relationships and communication with research and management partners.  On island accommodations are in restored lighthouse keeper’s housing, with a fully equipped modern field station to accommodate year-round occupation by biologists. When not in the field, the biologist’s time is dedicated to managing, analyzing, and interpreting data collected in the field as well as preparing reports and publications. Non field time would be based out of Point Blue’s Petaluma office or work from home telecommuting.

Anticipated start date: November 6, 2023

This position requires a minimum 3-year commitment.

Core responsibilities

As a Farallon Program Biologist with Point Blue you will:

  • Oversee field operations during the winter season focused primarily on continuing collection of northern elephant seal population, reproductive success, survival, and phenology data, and maintaining our long-term data sets. In addition, the biologist will oversee regular surveys of other pinniped species, cetaceans, salamanders, crickets, and migratory birds.
  • Train, mentor and supervise field crews of 3-4 long term volunteer research assistants to collect data following our long-term standardized protocols. This includes teaching field research methodologies; how to safely interact with island wildlife; bird, marine mammal, and fish identification; handling and tagging/banding pinnipeds and seabirds; health and safety training; and safe operation of island equipment and facilities.
  • Conduct landing operations using a small (15’) boat in open water to transfer people and gear safely from the supply boat to the island. This includes monitoring weather leading up to the landings and being able to effectively judge safe landing conditions to decide if a landing should be conducted.
  • Maintain and repair all island facilities including small boats and outboard engines; photovoltaic power system; diesel generators; cranes and hoists; motors, pumps, water collection/filtration/purification equipment, housing facilities, and anything else that can and will break.
  • Analyze and interpret data collected in the field to determine trends and/or answer specific research or management questions.
  • Write monthly and seasonal technical reports, conduct analysis, collaborate on publication of scientific papers, and present results at appropriate academic, public, and partner meetings.
  • Communicate clearly and concisely, both orally and in writing and establish, maintain, and foster positive and harmonious working relationships with volunteers, staff and partners, including the USFWS, Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, other state and federal agencies, local universities and other NGOs to advance climate-smart conservation and management of marine resources.


  • Bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university with major coursework in ecology, biology, zoology, ornithology or a closely related field and one or more years of experience conducting research and supervising crews in a remote field camp environment. Preference will be given to applicants with advanced degrees (MS or PhD), and a proven track record of field experience.
  • In addition, successful applicants must have significant small boat handling experience (preferably in an offshore environment), and strong mechanical aptitude, including basic familiarity with mechanical, electrical, plumbing, outboard engine maintenance, computer, and construction skills.
  • Applicants must be able to live and work in a remote setting with a small crew under potentially difficult conditions for an extended field season, including the ability to respond to emergency or unexpected situations effectively and calmly. On island work is conducted 7 days a week throughout the entire field season, often for extended hours with no time off.
  • Applicants are expected to be able to read, understand, interpret, and utilize maps, administrative and technical reports and data, ordinances, codes, regulations, and other materials relevant to conducting scientific studies and island operations. Preference will be given to applicants with data analysis, scientific writing, and publication experience.
  • Applicants must possess the ability to utilize personal computers and tablets for data entry, manipulation and back up, including proficiency with Microsoft Word, Excel, Access and PowerPoint and basic statistical analysis software (such as Stata or R).
  • Applicants must possess some basic experience with safe wildlife handling techniques, preferably with pinnipeds. Additional experience such as pinniped tagging, collecting morphological data on wild animals, and seabird capture and handling are desirable.
  • Possession of, or ability to obtain, all relevant certificates, permits, or licenses to conduct the required activities. Required certifications include a valid Class C driver’s license, wilderness first aid, CPR, motorboat operator’s certification, crane operator’s certification, hazardous communications training, banding and scientific collection permits.


Compensation will be competitive and dependent on experience. This is a full-time seasonal exempt position with a minimum salary of $64,480 annually, pro-rated to 5.5 months. Benefits are not provided.

Point Blue is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate against applicants or employees because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, citizenship status, disability status of an otherwise qualified individual, membership or application of membership in uniformed service, or membership in any other class protected by applicable law and will make reasonable accommodation for applicants with disabilities to complete the application and/or participate in the interview process We seek applicants from all backgrounds to join our teams. We strongly encourage applications from people with backgrounds that are under-represented in the conservation community.

To Apply:

Please fill out this form. You will be asked to upload a cover letter, CV, and a list of 3-5 references. Please include references for all supervisory field positions you have held. If applicable, you may upload PDFs of your publications and/or reports you feel are relevant to your application. Deadline to apply is August 31, 2023. If you encounter difficulty with the application process, please contact