Zoological Field Assistant

Job reference:
BAS 22/17
Contract type:
Full Time
Antarctic Winter - 18 months (with a possibility of extension).
Salary from £25,179 per annum, pro rata. Additionally, upon completion of a successful tour, you will receive a 10% bonus.
We offer generous benefits
Antarctic employment pool team
Closing date:
31 March, 2022 11:59 pm


British Antarctic Survey are seeking Zoological Field Assistants to carry out fieldwork on seabirds and seals on a sub-Antarctic island.

Bird Island is small (7 km in length) and forms part of the South Georgia archipelago where it is buffeted by both prevailing westerlies and cold winds from Antarctica. It has a high annual rainfall and variable snow cover during winter. In summer tens of thousands of seals and hundreds of thousands of seabirds breed there. Up to 10 staff live in a modern research station with a satellite link to the outside world and comfortable accommodation [1].

The successful applicants will work and live on Bird Island continuously, living with other residents and 3 summer visitors. Whilst everyone is assigned duties to keep the research station running (including cooking and cleaning), the residents have extra responsibilities (after pre-deployment training), such as providing IT, communications and medical cover. They will each be responsible for one element of a long term science programme. The learning curve is very steep and so all candidates must have previous experience of handling appropriate wild animals, but BAS will provide a finishing school (at Bird Island) to hone these skills.

Work in the wildlife breeding season at Bird Island is very intensive, with long hours of fieldwork and data preparation, so it is important to be well organized. Data are collated using databases and by submitting reports, observing deadlines at frequent intervals. The results underpin key research into regional and global change processes based on seabird and seal life histories, reproductive success, behaviour and diet.

The position of Zoological Field Assistant offers a unique opportunity for highly motivated and disciplined individuals with relevant fieldwork skills and a keen interest in wildlife, who will adapt well to small island living in a challenging sub-Antarctic environment.

[1] https://www.bas.ac.uk/polar-operations/sites-and-facilities/facility/bird-island/

Who we are

British Antarctic Survey (BAS) delivers and enables world-leading interdisciplinary research in the Polar Regions. Our skilled science and support staff based in Cambridge, Antarctica, and the Arctic, work together to deliver research that uses the Polar Regions to advance our understanding of Earth as a sustainable planet. Through our extensive logistic capability and know-how BAS facilitates access for the British and international science community to the UK polar research operation. Numerous national and international collaborations, combined with an excellent infrastructure help sustain a world-leading position for the UK in Antarctic affairs. British Antarctic Survey is a component of the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). NERC is part of UK Research and Innovation www.ukri.org

We employ experts from many different professions to carry out our Science and keep the lights on, feed the research and support teams, and keep everyone safe! If you are looking for an opportunity to work with amazing people in one of the most unique places in the world, then British Antarctic Survey could be for you. We aim to attract the best people for those jobs.

COVID-19 update

  •  We have a responsibility to do everything that we can to ensure that BAS Ships and Stations remain COVID-free and that staff are deployed safely and responsibly. Our medical screening for this season will therefore take account of the recognised factors that increase your risk of an adverse reaction to the coronavirus. The assessment is done confidentially by our Medical Unit and the criteria might be subject to change.
  • You will be required to be vaccinated against COVID-19, more details will be confirmed closer to your appointment date using the most recent guidance from the government and our medical unit.
  • You might be required to quarantine two weeks before your deployment, and you might sail to Antarctica on our polar ship.

All applications will be checked and those without the right to work in the UK or without a realistic prospect of being able to acquire the right to work in the UK will not progress.

Please read the Applicants guide here before submitting your application.


To work at Bird Island for 18 months (with a possibility of extension) preparing, collecting and recording seal and seabird data for a long term science programme [2]. To assist with other elements of the research programme as required.

[2] https://www.bas.ac.uk/project/higher-predators-long-term-science/


Must have been awarded an honours degree in biology/zoology or equivalent by the interview date


Field Assistant 1:

  • Responsible for work on seals
  • Monitor a population of tagged fur seals, sample for diet and weigh pups (to estimate growth rates).
  • Systematically tag and re-sight leopard seals during winter.
  • Assist with penguin and flying bird monitoring.
  • Collect project data for BAS scientists and visiting researchers (e.g. deploy transmitters and loggers to determine at-sea behaviour).

Field Assistant 2:

  • Responsible for work on albatrosses.
  • Monitor and collate data from four species of albatross including parameters on population size, breeding success, chick growth and diet.
  • Assist with seal and penguin monitoring.
  • Collect project data for BAS scientists and visiting researchers (e.g. deploy transmitters and loggers to measure aspects of foraging and chick provisioning strategy).

Field Assistant 3:

  • Responsible for work on penguins and giant petrels.
  • Monitor and collate data from penguins and giant petrels including parameters on population size, breeding success, chick growth and diet.
  • Assist with seal and albatross monitoring.
  • Collect project data for BAS scientists and visiting researchers (e.g. deploy transmitters and loggers to measure aspects of foraging and chick provisioning strategy).

Please quote reference for any queries: BAS 22/17
Publication date: 1 January 2022
Closing date for receipt of application forms is: 31 March 2022
Interviews are scheduled to be held on: TBC

At BAS, our vision is to be a world-leading centre for polar science and operations. Making our vision a reality depends on the excellence and diversity of our staff. We are committed to creating a workplace where all our staff can flourish and succeed. BAS is a Disability Confident employer, we are proud to hold a bronze Athena Swan award and we are a member of enei, the EmployersNetwork for Equality & Inclusion.

We appreciate the importance of achieving work-life balance and support this with a number of family and carer-friendly policies. Plus a flexible working policy for those who may wish to amend their working pattern or arrangement.

Skills are listed as either Essential or Desirable. Desirable skills importance rating in parenthesis (1 is high, 5 is low)

Communication skills

  • Fluent in written and spoken English language. - Essential
  • Experience of scientific report writing. - Desirable [1]

Computer / IT skills

  • Proficient in the use of IT equipment, word processing, spreadsheet and email software. - Essential
  • Knowledge of GIS software - Desirable [1]

Interpersonal skills

  • Considerate and mature in attitude. - Essential
  • Worked in a small team in remote locations. - Essential

Managerial ability

  • Self-motivated and can work unsupervised. - Essential

Other Factors

  • Physically fit and capable of carrying out fieldwork in rugged terrain. - Essential
  • Knowledge of wilderness survival techniques and first aid. - Desirable [1]


  • Must have been awarded an honours degree in biology/zoology or equivalent by the interview date - Essential

Skills / Experience

  • Wild bird/animal handling experience in the field. - Essential
  • Bird ringing license. - Desirable [1]
  • Handled wild seabirds or non-captive seals. - Desirable [1]
  • Laboratory management experience. - Desirable [1]
  • Attached devices to animals. - Desirable [1]

In order to apply, please complete and upload all the application forms listed below. If you experience any issues in uploading your Application Form, please email us your complete application, making reference to the job reference and title.

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss citizen, please visit this website before applying.

Apply Online:

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Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Recruitment team is working remotely and cannot access the building. If you would like to apply for this job but cannot apply online, please contact us: [email protected]

If you need more information

[email protected]
+44 (0)1223 221400
+44 (0)1223 362616

The information you provide during the application process will only be used for the purpose of progressing your application, to fulfil legal or regulatory requirements where necessary or, in the case of the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Questionnaire, to help BAS meet its equal opportunities policy.

The British Antarctic Survey will not share the information you provide with any third parties, and the information will be held securely by the British Antarctic Survey whether the information is in electronic or physical format. Please note that the Equal Opportunities Monitoring Questionnaire will be detached from your application prior to the short-listing of candidates for interview.

Unsuccessful applications will be securely destroyed 6 months after the end of the recruitment process (or 1 year after the end of the recruitment process in the case of Marine Staff and AEP. The applications of successful applicants will be retained as part of their personnel file.

Further information can be found in the information notice of NERC, our parent body.