The Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project is looking for qualified students to fill our upcoming internship positions. Interns will assist with field work on blue whales, education programme development, social media and outreach. See below for the complete details.

The Sri Lankan Blue Whale Project is the first long term research project on blue whales of the Northern Indian Ocean. The research and conservation work conducted through this project has been featured on BBC, The New York Times, TED, National Geographic, CNN, GOOD and New Scientist.

The volunteer position entails assisting during field surveys and analysis of photo-identification (photo-id). The successful applicant will gain valuable experience in conducting marine mammal field research, identifying individuals based on dorsal fin and fluke characteristics, and the use of databases for archiving field data.

Field work is physically and at times mentally demanding but it is a great opportunity to gain knowledge in visual cetacean surveying, to get hands-on field experience in relation to survey techniques, photo-id, behavioural observations, and improve practical skills.

Assistants need to be available full-time including weekends and be prepared to work long hours with early starts.

. Assisting with; boat-based photo-id surveys from a small vessel and collecting video based behavioural data.

. Analysis of photo-id and behavioural video data in the lab; including assistance with photo sorting, grading, and matching of photos, maintenance of a long-term photo-id catalogue, identifying behavioural events on video, and data entry. Research assistants should be prepared to work long days in the office analysing of photographs and matching them with the photo-identification catalogue.

. Be reliable, adaptable, hardworking and patient as fieldwork is highly weather dependent
. Have a mature and independent attitude towards marine mammal research
. Speak fluent English
. Be sociable, enthusiastic and have a positive attitude
. Strong interest in the marine environment and conservation
. Participants must be able to swim and should be comfortable working on small boats

The internship is open to students who are currently enrolled in, or recently graduated from an accredited college or university.
Preference will be given to students or recent graduates working towards biology, environmental studies, zoology, ecology, marine science, conservation, education, or other related fields.
Basic computer proficiency in MS Office
Strong and innovative science communication skills are an added bonus.
Intern should demonstrate strong written and verbal communication skills.
Students that are adaptable, responsible, hardworking, willing to learn, and have attention to detail are encouraged to apply.
Must be able to work independently and as part of a team.
Interns should be available for the entire field season from 1st February -28 February 2017.

Preferred qualifications but not required:
. Prior experience working on small vessels
. Field research including photo-id experience
. Previous experience in survey techniques and especially in marine mammal research
. First AID/CPR certification

As this is a volunteer position, there is unfortunately no monetary compensation (a small donation will be sought from non-Sri Lankan students), interns must cover their own transportation expenses to the field site (including flights and visas) in Weligama, Sri Lanka. Basic housing and food will be provided.

To Apply- Send your resume, cover letter, and one letter of reference to Asha de Vos at whalessrilanka@gmail.com. Applications must be received by January 23rd for decisions to be made by the 25t
in anticipation of the 1st February start date.

Explore by the seat of your pants! TONIGHT!

Looking out for whales and other marine life off Mirissa, Sri Lanka. Photo credit Steve de Neef.

Looking out for whales and other marine life off Mirissa, Sri Lanka. Photo credit Steve de Neef.



Tonight, 8:30 PM Sri Lanka time I will be talking to classrooms around the world about my work and my adventures! Come ‘Explore by the seat of your pants’ with me!!
It’s FREE and ANYONE can join in the fun! Just click on this link:

My TED Talk with Sinhala subtitles


YAY! Christmas has come early! I am so excited to finally see the Sinhala subtitles available for my TED talk!! I am grateful to Chathuri Daluwatte for taking on the task through TED’s open translation project.

One of my goals in life is to bring the wonder of the oceans to EVERYONE because the more people know, the more they are likely to care. Equality of information is so important to me which is why I reached out to both the Sinhala and Tamil translation teams to ensure all Sri Lankans have the opportunity to learn why we should all care about whale poop. Translators for TED’s open translation project work on a voluntary basis so doing this is an extra bit of work, but I am happy that we have at least one language up, and eagerly await the opportunity to announce the Tamily version too!

In the mean time, please watch it here: http://bit.ly/1RpKqca and circulate to your friends and family! If I am not mistaken I am the first Sri Lankan up on TED and also the first with a local language translation!!

Follow my new adventure!


My funky foot tan and I are off on a very big, new and exciting adventure. We encountered a few challenges on the way but it wasn’t anything a bunch of amazing people couldn’t solve. Stay tuned….I promise you won’t be disappointed!

If you use Instagram, please add me @ashadevos to follow all my posts. See you there?

#challenges #travel #marinebiology #marineconservation #japan #tan #feet #transit #blue #friends #humanity

My TED Talk exceeds the magic number!

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Super excited that my TED talk has exceeded the magic 1 million mark. What does this mean? ATLEAST one million people now care about whale poop and how important it is for the functioning of the oceans. Isn’t that amazing? If you have already watched the talk, THANK YOU! If you missed it, please watch it and everyone – please share!


Beneath the Waves Film Festival Santa Cruz

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Pleased to announce that I will be sitting on a CAREER PANEL at the Beneath the Waves Film Festival here in Santa Cruz on Friday 25th September. The career panel will kick off straight after a showing of the New York Times documentary about my work by Erik Olsen (around 530pm).

The career panel will include myself, a film maker, a fishermen and a few others. If you have any questions at all about getting involved with the ocean THIS IS THE EVENT FOR YOU!!! Also — admission is FREE so no excuses! Come on down, meet me and the others, ask your questions and prepare for your new adventure!!

Just launched: 5 burning questions

Excerpt of a message I received from a Sri Lankan student.

Excerpt of a message I received from a Sri Lankan student.

Do you, or anyone you know want to pursue a career in marine biology? Do you want to figure out how to kickstart your career? Do you have lots of questions related to the field but noone to ask?

In that case, I’ve launched this project, 5 burning questions, just for you!

Please go to : http://ashadevos.com/?page_id=642 and follow the Directions carefully. Remember only well thought out, SPECIFIC questions will be answered. By answering these questions through the blog, others will get the opportunity to learn and perhaps some of their questions answered too.

Please spread the word so lots of people can get their questions answered and make the necessary decisions to become and Ocean Hero!

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you!


Join me on Twitter

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Follow along on Twitter tomorrow (7/28) as as I share the story of how curiosity and whale poo helped inspire my decision to study The Unorthodox Whales of Sri Lanka. I will be talking about my journey and its challenges with teachers in a workshop led by New England Aquarium educators and you can follow @MCAF_NEAq on Twitter (2:30-3:30 EST/ 11:30-12:30 PST).

Please do send me questions using the hashtag ‪#‎oceaninspiration‬ and I will try to answer as many as possible at the end of the workshop!

What next? Lessons from an ongoing life

Talking to students about how to get from where they are, to where they want to be!

Talking to students about how to get from where they are, to where they want to be!

Yesterday I had the honour of talking to a class of behavioural ecology students at the University of California Santa Cruz about how to go from where they are, to where they want to be. Educational institutions undoubtedly do a fabulous job at teaching us lots of stuff – textbook, foundational theories that help us understand important concepts in a given field. The problem is, to be successful in your mission, there are so many other things that remain untaught or unspoken. I always have students ask me ‘what do I do now’ and this talk is an attempt at addressing just that. How to bridge the gap between school and the real world. What steps you should take and what you need to think about from NOW! To ensure that students believed it was possible, I wove my personal story with life lessons and essential skills that I have had to learn along the way – through trial and error. It was really fun to talk to, and inspire these third years as they start to think about their next big adventure and more fun to see how quickly they began to adopt my advice! If my personal journey can help others dream big and believe in the impossible, I feel like I am one step closer to achieving my dream of leaving this world a better place than I found it!