Ischia dolphin and whale conservation project

Whale and Dolphin conservation in Italy, volunteer experience

The Ischia dolphin and whale conservation project is one that made my dreams come true; not only because of the impact in its field but also because we’ve had such a lovely crew and saw a lot of gorgeous things (including dolphins and tuna). This research has been going on for so long that it has caused to make the waters around Ischia a more protected area. The project exceeded my expectations by far.

The Jean Gab is a beautiful sailing boat and Angelo (the captain) is an amazing cook. Everyone has to do some daily chores such as washing the dishes, vacuuming, cleaning etc. but that was also quite nice. Quite a lot of friends from Angelo came over to the boat, making the ambiance even more amazing than it already was because we’ve had such a lovely crew.

It was nice to see how everyone worked together and where almost always doing different things: i.e. some people where looking out for the dolphins while some other where looking at the spectrogram to see if there are any dolphins or whales near, and because of that I feel like I have definitely made a difference to the project. It’s important to stay very patient when you’re out sailing for a long time because you don’t know if you’ll be seeing dolphins or any other sea animal at all: nature doesn’t wait for you.

The one (and only) day we’ve finally got to see dolphins was by far a dream come true; a pod of striped dolphins came very close to the boat and they were truly beautiful. The rest of the days we’ve seen a couple of tunas and that was of course also very amazing.


Tanzania, Human rights and legal aid placement

Do you feel the project makes an impact in this field?

100%, It provides free legal advice and support to a large amount of people that would not have access to these kind of legal services. It ensures many of the most disadvantged people in society have a voice and are not taken advantage off.


Do you feel that you made a difference to the project?

Whilst it was difficult to make a significant difference only being there for a month, I did feel that I did important work such as applying for grants which is cricual to the NGO and also helping Martha (the lawyer) to write depositions and to help her translate cases etc..


What challenges have you encountered? How did you overcome them?


The culture shock and difference in work ethic, everything is very slow and unorgansied and there is often lots of waiting around, especially at court. The only way to overcome this is to simply be patient and understanding, accept that this is the norm and there is no point stressing over something you cant control, treat it as an experience.


What success are you proud of?


The other volunteers and I achieved quite a lot during my stay, we managed to help Martha to ensure she won multiple cases for her clients, and in general just did our best to support her in whatever way we could.


Did the project meet your expectations?


The project was very different to how I envisaged it to be, but in a good way, it was an amazing experience and I certainly met a lot of incredible people that oppened my eyes to so many different cultures and experiences. Whislt the work can sometimes be slow and frustrasting you do feel like you are helping and it can be very rewarding. The only criticism I would have is that when there is more than 1/2 volunteers, there is often not enough work to go around.


Would you reccommend this project to a friend?

Yes I would, I believe this was one of the best experiences I have had, not just in terms of the work but mainly the diferent people you meet and just the general exposure you get to a completley different culture and lifestyle.


Ischia Whale and Dolphin Conservation

I am so proud and incredibly thankful that I decided to volunteer for this project. 

I went into this, hoping to gain some real-life field experience in either a Marine Biology or Conservation Biology context- and I feel like I really did. It is by no means the most glamourous of placements or experiences, but it is totally authentic. There was a lot of waiting, a lot of looking at open ocean and listening to what at times felt like a completely empty sea, but when we finally did make a sighting or when good quality whistles and clicks were picked up on the hydro-phone, it was beyond satisfying. Even in those moments when you’re not finding anything and you may feel like you’re not making an impact to Cetacean conservation in that area, you realise that the sightings you don’t make or sounds you don’t hear, give as much information as when you do pick up something.



For example:


While volunteering during the heatwave that swept through Europe, there was an observation made that there were less sightings – which led to the crew speculating over dinner (which was always an amazing time together at the end of the day!) whether the heatwave was having an affect on the aquatic life’s behavioural patterns and on our sightings. Every part of the trip was valuable data even if you don’t realise it at the time.


If you want to get the most of this project, my biggest piece of advice is: Stick your nose into every aspect of it. Be almost annoying in your engagement and inquiries. Take the initiative. 

The skipper (who is one of the nicest men on Earth) is also a major part of this project and he is incredibly dedicated- in other words he’s there to do a job and not to babysit you- if you want to understand how the hydrophone and spectrogram works (which you definitely do trust me), you have to ask and he’ll happily enlighten you. If you wish to learn about sailing and being at the helm- you have to ask and the crew will gladly tell you all about it. Getting over the initial shyness that comes from being somewhere totally new, with totally new people, was a challenge for me at first. Not wanting to get too much in the way, or interrupting the flow of the ship was on my mind, but once I forced myself to be a bit more confident in asking questions and getting involved- I very quickly became apart of that flow.


Living on a sailboat such as the Jean Gap was definitely a new experience, but allowing yourself to be adaptable and open makes it so much easier and I was surprised at how quickly I adapted. The daily duties were split equally and were very manageable, also just really cool to see what a different type of lifestyle requires chore-wise.

Do I think I made a big impact on the project? I’m honestly not too sure. I hope so. I hope my payment to volunteer helps the initiative continue, I hope my being there shows how interested people are to help and make positive change in marine conservation efforts and I hope that my being there did make an impact even if I don’t see it directly. In saying all that, being apart of this project definitely had a huge impact on me and I’m very proud and grateful of how much I learnt by being apart of this experience. I think that sentiment is shared by the fact that during my stay, previous volunteers made time to come out of their way, and during their holiday too, to help out again for a short amount of time.

Food was always amazing, chores were very easy and manageable, amenities were great (proper ones where we were docked) and good for that type of sail boat, crew was incredibly lovely, the days were long but it didn’t matter because the time felt well spent. Never once felt unsafe or

uncomfortable, in fact, I felt immediately welcomed. Transit to the Island and finding the ship was also incredibly easy. The ferries become your best friend in that part of the world and the project portfolio they send you is very detailed in all aspects of the project, including transit. A massive shout out to the projects leader Barbara- she was great support and very easy to get in contact with and answer questions.

I am seriously considering going back and staying much longer and I would definitely recommend friends of mine to come with me. I’m so gratified that in my short time aboard I learnt the initial lessons of sailing, learnt about scientific observation in the wild, learnt how to handle the technical equipment and interpret readings. I got to explore islands that I never otherwise would have seen; get a small taste of a totally different lifestyle; experienced being part of a crew and learnt about myself in the process. 

Marine Research & Mega Fauna Conservation

Marine Conservation & Local Community Development in Mozambique

My time spent in Mozambique definitely had an impact in this field and on me personally too. It has helped to create various research papers about marine wildlife and especially mega fauna. I have contributed to the research by doing daily tasks which were helpful for the whole research project.

I haven’t encountered any serious challenges, everything went smooth during my time there. The only issue was pre-departure with securing Visa, which luckily worked out in the end and I could start my internship on time.

I’m proud of my contributions to the research project, how I managed to adapt to a completely new environment and make the most out of it.  I’m also happy that the project met my expectations and I would go back and do it again. I would recommend this to a friend with similar passion and to someone who likes to trying new things and explore new places.

Vietnam Food Shop Project

My experience in the food shop is one that  I will remember. It was arguably the most tiring thing I’ve ever done. Even if the job was just for half a day, I found it very tiring and labor intensive. I was assigned to food prep and cleaning. It was a tiring job. Despite this, I found myself eternally happy by helping people. It was very gratifying to help those in need and seeing the goodness of the workers in the shop. My coordinator guided me through it all with a very optimistic disposition. She is a very capable individual and was able to make me feel comfortable enough in my new placement. It was an experience I will never forget and will hold close to my heart always! I recommend this program to those who are curious and willing. I see myself doing this program again.

Huerta Luna Permaculture Internship UPDATED REPORT

Good evening,

I originally applied for this permaculture experience found on Linkedin, while I was applying for industrial year placements for my third year at university. I then found a lot of the itinerary for this volunteering opportunity relevant to the modules I had taken in my second year, on sustainable development, agricultural systems and permaculture. On a whim I applied, and was surprised to then realise I was going, and turned out to be the best spontaneous thing I had signed myself up to. I had never been to the Americas, let alone travelled solo (I am well travelled with family!) and it was a personal challenge I felt I was very ready for, and that this opportunity had come to me at just the right time. I certainly learned a thing or two about myself, how to organise and travel, and how to enjoy spending time with myself.

After the first week of my month there, there were a couple issues with my original host family and I was relocated last minute to a second host family – who I love and still keep in contact with. Being the first week, I was still relatively on edge and getting to grips with being abroad on my own, and so this relocation was somewhat disturbing and posed quite a challenge for me. I would like to say however that the support from external Global Nomadic staff as well as Karina was more than enough, and was greatly appreciated. I did not spend a single second feeling I was in danger. It also helped that I was able to have a buddy, Anna, who’s volunteering placement overlapped with mine. We are both pictured in the image I have provided with this report, and we are still very much in touch!

On a personal level, firstly I am very proud of my ability to have kept up journalling as a daily habit throughout the month. I had never journaled properly before, and having the product of that now to look through is the best souvenir from the trip. I am more importantly very happy with knowing I was a part of Huerta luna’s volunteering, helping out Mari and Suzy on the farm day to day. Although I was learning a ton about sustainable permaculture, organic farming and compost systems, I do believe that I had made a difference, however small, through insightful conversations with them, as well as being a part of the upkeep of the farm from repaving to harvesting.

The project certainly met and went beyond my expectations. I was surprised at the amount of free time I had to solo travel and really make the most of my time in the Galapagos, and if it wasn’t for this opportunity I wouldn’t know when I would ever find the time to go to the Galapagos. It has very much exposed me to understanding that for me, travelling feels so much more valuable when being a part of productive projects such as this – giving you a structure to the trip as well as having more reason to assimilate with local communities, who you would otherwise miss with general touristing.

I will and have already recommended Global Nomadic to a couple friends – in particular my friend doing medicine who is interested in the Tanzania medical placement. For my first ever volunteering experience, especially abroad, I felt I was in the best hands to be passed over to Huerta Luna’s team and felt supported through the whole time.

Dolphin Project Day 2

Day 2

Tuesday the second day on the boat we left Casamacciola for Ventotene west of Ischia. Along the way we listened for whale and dolphin noise using the hydrophobic. Gaia explained to me how the sonar worked and how to tell which direction relative to the ship the sound was coming from. Along the way we had a whale sighting not far from the boat and changed direction to get closer. The whale surfaced a few times before diving and breaching the surface. The whale stayed near the surface for longer, doing shallow dives before coming back. After it left the pictures taken of the fins showed that it was a whale the team had seen frequently in the past.

The whole team is very knowledgeable about the topic and always willing to answer the questions we have. The project is going beyond my expectations so far, and is a very exciting experience.

Day 4

Day 4 of the project we left Ventotene to go back to Ischia. After a few hours with the hydrophone in the water, we heard the whistles of striped dolphins that were nearby.

The first group we came to were about 4 dolphins surfacing far infront of the boat. When we got close enough to see them without binoculars, the dolphins would swim under the bow of the boat and surface just off to the side. The longer we followed the dolphins the more we were able to see and hear. The dolphins stayed close to the front of the boat, diving and spinning underwater. We were able to hear the whistles through the water while listening at the bow. Barbara estimated that there would likely be 50 dolphins that were in the area at the time.

Seeing the striped dolphins so close and watching them interact was an incredible experience. The sounds recorded on the sonar were so dynamic and really showed the level of vocalizations among the group.

Final Day

The final day of navigation before my week with the project ends, we left Ischia in beautiful weather and calm water after the wind and big waves from yesterday. We stayed near the island, going just passed Forio. We sailed out for a while and then stopped the motor to listen for sounds better. While the water was calm we jumped off the boat into 1000m deep water which is the deepest I’ve been in My week with the project is finishing up and the experience has been absolutely incredible.

The project’s team are all passionate about the conservation of cetaceans in the area and very knowledgeable about all the observation strategies and programs to record data. I’m very glad Į was able to come volunteer for a program like this and it’s something that I would recommend to anyone interested in conservation and the Oceans.


Lisa Gregory – Australia 

Upon my arrival in Cambodia I was greeted at the airport and set off on my journey to the Blue House guest house where I was met by the friendly and lovely staff who made me feel very welcome.

Over my time here I have helped with many different tasks, including brick laying, digging, cement mixing, brick soiling and painting. I also got the chance to spend some time with the children of Greenway primary school playing skip rope, singing and dancing.

The project at Greenway primary school is ongoing and I look forward to returning in the near future. Its a life changing experience and would recommend anyone thinking of doing it.



Lisa Gregory