Cetacean Abundance Programmer

At Saltwater Inc., we believe that high quality data is vital to the health of our fisheries and oceans: our mission is to provide that data. Saltwater is a small, innovative company and we are currently recruiting an experienced R programmer, familiar with quantitative and statistical analyses and open data science practices, within the Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center (PIFSC) for a federal contract we are bidding on. This is a full time, remote position. The Programmer will work with the PIFSC to develop a unified tool for generating design-based estimates of cetacean abundance in the Pacific that can be easily adapted for use by analysts in other regions. 


  • Update and transition existing code for each core component of each design-based abundance estimation method (e.g., group-based for most species and subgroup-based for false killer whales) into an open data science format using R programming language and related tools.
    • Data Processing Component: Develop new code that refines output from the R package ‘swfscDAS’ (Woodman 2021), which processes data files from the line-transect data collection program ‘WinCruz’, and produces sightings and effort summaries in formats needed for evaluation and analysis.
    • Data Evaluation Component: Develop new code that examines data availability by cetacean species and stock, truncation distances for detection functions, and sample sizes for detection function and abundance estimation from the processed sightings summary.
    • Detection Function Formulation Component: Develop new code that uses the processed sightings summary and established truncation distances and models and evaluated each detection function, interfacing with existing ‘Distance’ R packages when possible.
    • Parameter Estimation Component: Develop new code that  uses the processed data summaries and detection function models and estimates the survey-specific parameters and results (i.e., effective strip width, group or subgroup size, trackline detection probability or g(0), density, and abundance) and associated uncertainty using established bootstrap procedures.
  • Annotate and debug the new code and work with the PIFSC Program Manager to validate the results of each core component for each method.
  • Ensure the new code is integrated across components and generalized for each method (to the extent possible) so the abundance estimation tool can be implemented across multiple species and stocks at one time.
  • Work with the PIFSC Program Manager to develop additional documentation that may be required to package, publish, or distribute the abundance estimation tool. 


Optional duties may include the following:

  • Develop new R code to automate data and results summaries for reporting and mapping purposes.
  • Update and transition existing code for analyses that inform design-based abundance estimation of cetaceans in the Pacific into an open data science format using R and related tools.
    • Produce Beaufort-specific estimates of g(0) by species or area (Barlow 2015)
    •  Examine the role of random variation in the encounter rate through simulation (e.g., Bradford et al. 2021)
    • Evaluate aspects of relevant species-specific data collection protocols (e.g., false killer whale subgroup size estimation; Bradford et al. 2020)

Saltwater Inc. is proud to be an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, disability, or protected veteran status.



  • Bachelor’s degree, or higher, from an accredited college or university with a major directly related to a field of study as related to the requirements of the specific task order.
  • Interpret code written by others in the R programming language.
  • Create efficient and streamlined R code in an open data science format.
  • Use open data science tools, such as the R package ‘tidyverse’, RStudio, R Markdown, Git, and GitHub
  • Proficiency with developing R code for quantitative and statistical analyses.
  • Ability to create code in a collaborative environment, with feedback and collaboration during the development and validation process.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.


  • Interpret code written by others in the Fortran programming language.
  • Familiarity with design-based line-transect analysis.


Salary commensurate with experience. Medical insurance, Holiday, PTO, Sick pay, and 401K are also offered.

How To Apply

Only qualified applicants that meet the requisite experience need apply. If interested, applicants should submit a resume and cover letter that briefly describes how they meet the qualifications listed above and why they would be the best candidate for the job.

Please send your resume and cover letter to Abby Snedeker at abby.snedeker@saltwaterinc.com

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