Preservation of the common dolphin, at the center of bio diversity and cultural heritage in the Aegean.


By: Scarlet Kuijper | Posted on: 11 Aug 2018

My background

“I am from Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Ever since I was young, I loved marine life. In the summer one could find me in the Kennemerduinen (dunes), or in the coastal place Zandvoort, swimming in the Northsea. It still feels like my natural habitat.

1981 – 1983: Cetacea; hmm, quite interesting…

There used to be a Dolfirama in Zandvoort back then, were I first became interested in bottlenose dolphins. During the shows, I learnt the given information by heart.
At the same time the activists marine organisation Greenpeace gained much publicity, and became very popular among youth, for saving seal pups from slaughtering in Canada.
Thanks to them I learnt more about cetaceans specificly and marine wildlife in general.

Common dolphins. Published in “Dierenleven in de zeeën” by Albert C. Jensen. About marine wildlife, my favorite.

I continued to read and learn more about cetaceans. By that time I had a dream of doing research on wildlife dolphins, but this seemed to me to be reserved to Jacques-Yves Cousteau only. I didn’t have a clue that a study such as marine biologist actually exists. If I might have known back then, I would have been determined to educate to this profession!

35 years later: announcement of the project.

When visiting Greece on holidays for the first time in 2016, I learned to know about Global Nomadic and the project by a pop-up message on LinkedIn. I was unemployed by that time, and the project gave me a new perspective in life. Thus I applied for this traineeship in the last week of September 2017.
I would describe Global Nomadic as a travel agency, specialized on trainee ships and volunteering at non-profit projects world wide.

About the research organisation..

The executive research institute is a non-profit, non-governmental environmental organisation.

NADP September 2017. MOm warning sign
Author (at the right) together with a fellow trainee on a beach at a warning sign. September 2017

The project was named after a highly endandgered specie; the monk seal, which has its habitat in the eastern Mediterranean. Only a few hundred of these animals still remain worldwide.
Since 1988 They try to preserve the monk seal populations in the Aegean sea, by environmental research, information and education, and raising orfan monk seal pups for the purpose of saving as much inidividuals as possible to maintain a healthy population.

 

The organisation cooperated with other organisations, like, for example, the Erasmus university in Rotterdam and the seal station in Pieterburen in the Netherlands. Though the monk seal project is main core, the project runs other marine projects as well. One of them is the dolphin research project.
The head quarters is located in Athens, but the site location is at Patitiri, a harbour place on Alonissos island. The island is situated in a marine reservation in the Aegean sea; the NMPANS (National Marine Park of Alonissos Northern Sporades). This is the research area of the project. There is a small house uphill for the lodging of trainees, and an info center downtown.

NADP 2018. MOm info center
Author (at the right) with a fellow trainee at the info centre. June 2018

Research on dolphin populations in the marine reservation.

Since 2013 they has started a research project on dolphin populations, named NADP (Northern Aegean Dolphins Project). The purpose of this project is inventarisation and monitoring of dolphins inhabiting the area of the NMPANS. Target species are the (short- beaked) common dolphin Delphinus delphis, the bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus, the striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba and the Risso’s dolphin Grampus griseus. The last 3 species mentioned are vulnarable, while the common dolphin is even endangered.

The common dolphin in Greece; history and culture.

So it’s funny though. A specie which is named “common” dolphin, one should expect it to be common, but it actually is endangered. How can that be possible?
Dolphins, especially the common dolphin, are a substantial part of the early Greece history and culture. They are frequently depicted in ancient buildings, like the famous dolphins fresco in the palace of Knossos (approx 1600 B.C.).

Common Dolphins depicted. Aprox 1600 B.C.
Fresco of common dolphins at Knossos palace. Published in “Les dauphines et la liberté” by Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

Up until the 18th century the common dolphin was most seen in the Mediterranian sea, while the bottlenose dolphin was quite rare. Because of human influences this has changed dramatically. During the industrialisation the populations of both species diminished because of environmental pollution. The number of common dolphins decreased even more than the number of bottlenose dolphins. The common dolphin is probably more sensitive to pollution than the bottlenose dolphin. A recent main problem is (industrial) overfishing. In contrast to the bottlenose dolphin, which is quite adaptive by finding new food resources, the common dolphin is a culture fobic specie. These environmental changes led to a smaller population of common dolphins, in relation to the population of bottlenose dolphins existing today.
The presence and viability of vulnerable and endangered species is an indication of a healthy living environment (like “a canary in a coalmine”). Preservation of marine life in general (and the common dolphin in special) is of great importance to the natural values in this area, as well as to the cultural heritage of Greece.

On-board!

The fieldwork is done at day time. The captain sails the boat among the Sporades islands, within the borders of the reservation. A board member is standing by for hands-on assistance and photography. The trainees take positions on the boat, to have a total overview over sea. Each one of them is watching a piece of horizon, to spot dorsal fins. The study director stands at the center, watching as well, using binoculars. During the trip he is instructing the trainees.

Fieldwork: The author is instructed by the Study Director about raw data entry. June 2018

When dolphins are spotted, the observation starts: which kind of species, counting numbers, if possible recognition of males, females and juveniles, kind of behaviour by sounds and movements. This information is noted on forms, as well as time and location of observation. Pictures and film material are made, for the purpose of identification of individuals.

Observation: “It’s a dolphin!”

According to the weather, we had 3 days to sail sea. At the last day, we didn’t expect to spot any dolphins anymore, and directed at the harbour. Then, all of a sudden, a common dolphin jumped in front of my face out of the water. All of us got enthousiastic, went to see them, and took pictures. We counted 3 of them. Two of them swam together, while the third one swam among them. They were very eager to join us, jumped up from the water every now and then, and played in the waves of the boat. When they swam on their back, we tried to determ the sexe. They got along for 25 mins.

 

Back to the base

In the evening the trainees have background information about the project by presentations, held by the study director. All information is registered in a database.

MOm field base
The Study Director compares dorsal fins at the field base. September 2017

Pictures are selected and, if necessary, edited for the purpose of individual identification.A dolphins’ “fingerprint” is the dorsal fin, because of the marks on it; scratches and notches, which are unique for each individual. Relevant pictures are compared and matched to archive material. Annually returning individuals are tracked by this method.

Break…

During the traineeship there are many moments to relax as well. Enjoy Patitiri, do sightseeing at Alonissos or one of the other islands, go to the beach. Share information with the project crew and socialize with fellow trainees, who share the same interest. It was awesome!
The study director told me that after 20 years of data collecting, conclusions can be made. Since I think this a very valuable research project, I aim to return each year to follow the developments. Infact, I went back again!”

 

Dolphin Research Internship in Greece

 

 

TEFL in Paradise

tefl in costa rica report


By: Caroline Grandchamp | Posted on: 09 Aug 2018

 

“As I was finishing up my senior year of college at Florida State University I started thinking about what I wanted to do in the next chapter of my life. I have studied Spanish for the last eleven years of my life, and knew I wanted to continue that. I was browsing LinkedIn, searching for jobs, when I came across Global Nomadic and their various volunteer opportunities across the world. Once I read more about the program in Costa Rica I was sold. I have many friends and family who have travelled to Costa Rica over the years and they always have nothing but good things to say about the country. I think this also helped making my pre-departure planning a little easier. I had many people who I could ask for advice when it came to packing. This made that process easier, even though I always over pack and have a hard time cutting down what I actually need. I also always save my packing for the last minute which is not the best practice. My main aims for my time on the project were to practice my Spanish in a country where Spanish is the native language, and also gain the skills I needed in order to become a successful teacher myself. I wanted to be able to connect with people who come from different backgrounds than I do, and a shared language is a good way to do that.

The first night that I landed in San José, Costa Rica, it was night time so I didn’t really get a good look at the country I would be calling home for the next two and a half months. However, as I drove through the country next day I was in awe of its beauty. When I arrived at Proyecto Santa Teresa I met Vill, who was extremely helpful and welcoming. He showed me around the hostel and made sure I had everything I knew where important places in town where (Super Ronny #2, the grocery store being the most important). Vill is also my Spanish teacher, and is definitely a good resource when I have questions regarding the hostel or Spanish language. Kerri is also amazing! She is so friendly and is a great teacher! I had my first TEFL classes with her, and she made it seem so much less intimidating than I thought it was going to be. Over the course of my time in Costa Rica she has become a great friend. The area of Santa Teresa is also fairly easy to navigate. It is one dirt road, and you can find anything you need on that main stretch. Our hostel is also a less than five minute walk to the beach, which is so nice! When I first arrived it was green season and there were not many other tourists in the area. It was a great time to practice my Spanish language skills and I think the locals definitely appreciate seeing foreigners make an effort to be part of the culture. I also live with two other teachers who did their TEFL training through Proyecto, so we have made fast friends.

As I come to the end of my time at Proyecto I am amazed at how quickly these last two months have flown by. Living in Santa Teresa I can see that the English classes they provide are making a difference in the community. Whenever I see students out in town they always come over and practice their English. My favorite thing is when they say, “Hi, teacher”! I had the privilege of getting four students who had never taken English classes before. I have worked with them twice a week over the last two months and I can already see how far they have come with their language skills and how eager they are to continue. It is an amazing feeling to know that you are making a difference in someone’s life. This project definitely went above and beyond my expectations. Everyone who is here as part of Proyecto is like a small family. Those who have been here for a long time are such good resources and always willing to help. It really makes the experience so much better that there is a giant support system here. I would 100% recommend this program to a friend, and in fact I already have. I think it’s a great place to earn your TEFL certification and also increase your knowledge of the Spanish language.

Over the last two months I have gotten to experience so many new things. I have experienced the night life of Santa Teresa (Thursdays are the night to party here), and spent Halloween in Montezuma with the Proyecto family. I also jumped off a waterfall in Montezuma, conquering my extreme fear of heights. I rented ATVs one day with friends and we took a ride through the jungle. Last weekend I also travelled to Granada, Nicaragua with another English teacher who I live with at Proyecto. These last two months have been full of amazing experiences for me!!”

TEFL Training & Teaching in Costa Rica

Renewable Energy Development in Lobitos, Peru

Environmental Conservation Internship in Peru report by Javier


By: Jose Javier Rosas Echeverria | Posted on: 09 Aug 2018

 

“One of my best experiences abroad! Peru has definitely left a mark on me.

As a volunteer for the NGO I participated in many projects in such a short time! Time flew! These are some of the projects that my team and I were involved in:

  • Planting day🌱! Although we had to wake up every week at 6:00 it was very fun!
  • Reforestation to protect the Peruvian “Cortarramas” bird and restore its habitat
  • Website translation (Spanish and English)
  • Facebook and Steemit marketing
  • Buying groceries, etc in Talara for all the ecoFamily
  • Writing a letter to the Mayor to obtain permission to install our sign
  • Designing and building a solar distiller to produce drinking water from seawater
  • Trialling different materials in the dry toilet to reduce water and form compost
  • Designing a renewable energy system for the rural health clinic to avoid disposing the vaccines after a blackout
  • Checking the performance of a PV system

     

In addition, I also learnt how to live with less resources, responsibly use water, deal with extended electrical blackouts, minimize my internet access, travel in overcrowded vans with many people on bumpy dirt rides, recover from frequent food poisoning, survive without a proper hospital in the village and I also learnt about corruption.

All this makes you value what you have at home. I really missed having a hot shower! 🚿

 Apart from this, Lobitos is a great place to learn to surf, go fishing, eat ceviche, watch the sunset, learn spanish, see wild animals in front of your house, and even swim with turtles!

It was sad to say goodbye so soon, I would’ve loved to see my major project finished. Thanks for everything! I wish you the best and that you are very successful with your future endeavours. I will recommend this experience to everyone who asks me!

🌄And Machupicchu… WOW! This place is magical and amazing! I almost didn’t make it, but after two flight cancellations, driving to another airport, convincing the airline to change my flights, hotel cancelations, losing my laptop and suitcase, not sleeping at all and so on, I arrived just in time to catch the train to Machupicchu. This place really captivated me. But don’t get too excited and climb very quickly, otherwise you might feel the altitude sickness!”

Renewable Energy Development in Peru

 

Never Say Naver

marine conservation project in italy report


By: Celeste Rowe | Posted on: 09 Aug 2018

 

“I never thought a simple google search would lead me to one of the most memorable experiences of my life. I’ve wanted to study marine biology for as long as I can remember and I figured, what better way to know for sure that this is the right path for me than to get out there and see and be apart of the work that is involved? Global Nomadic happen to be one of the first three websites I clicked on and it seemed to be the most organized as opposed to the others and boy am I glad I chose this project. Initially arriving on the island of Ishcia there was an apparent language barrier but the locals were more than happy to help assist me in finding where I needed to go. I arrived a day and a half early to the project and stayed at the Hotel Gemma. They were very accommodating considering I had not made previous arrangements for my stay. They had complimentary breakfast every morning and the gentleman working the front desk let me borrow his phone charger during my stay until I purchased the correct wall plug in piece.

Upon arriving to the Jean Gab I was greeted  by the researcher, Hayley, who immediately offered me drink and food after helping me get my luggage into the boat. I was given a tour of the boat and once the rest of the volunteers arrived we were given a very informative orientation and a basis of our itinerary for the week. The first day out sailing I unfortunately got sea sick, but I was resilient and determined to gain as much from this project as possible. We ended up having a Sperm whale sighting that very day, come to find out the whale was not yet in the database! It was a perfect way to end a rough start to the day. I also participated in photo identying previous dolphin sightings as well as collected data on the the birds we saw. I firmly believe this organization is making a significant impact in their cause. There was impeccable team work amongst the volunteers.

We each took turn in cooking and cleaning. I cannot express the amount of gratitude I have for Angelos generosity and willingness to share not his boat, but his knowledge of the sea and his personal experiences. On the days we weren’t able to sail we visited the local resorts and shops as well as snorkeling in the bays around the island. Prior to this trip I had an extreme fear of boats and large bodies of water in general. I can confidently say I have defeated this fear, much of which was due to the support and encouragement of the volunteers and Hayley especially. It was bittersweet when it came time to leave but I now have full affirmation that this is a career I want to pursue and I’m looking forward to going back next year!”

By Celeste Rowe

Dolphin Research Placement in Italy

 

Bree in La Gi


By: Brigitte Rimann | Posted on: 09 Aug 2018

 

“Let me say that this is my first trip to Asia on my own. It was not as much the teaching I feared but coping with insects and other unexpected things. My challenges was to not let my fear of insects and other animals overcome my desire of making a difference by teaching childeren.  So far I dealed with that part but still am not a fan of anything that creeps and crawls into my room or near my feet.

As of the teaching I had a great experience. It is completely different from how I teach in Holland. For starters, this is a summerschool that gives children the opportunity to improve their English. I expected to teach at a school in a local town with children that have no English at their school and through volunteers get the opportunity. Nevertheless I was an overal good experience. I had to teach with little means, smallest classroom, no books, table and little space to do energizers. Some children were eager to speak, others so shy it was hard to get a word out. But still I had to make sure it was an hours lesson well spend. I think i’ve made a difference by making the lessons fun, interactive and with a lot of enthousiasm. The children got more open to speak and I was very positive about their speaking skills.

The director, Mr. Lang and his staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome and at home. They help wherever they can, take you out to see places and trust you with their students. I think childeren are lucky to come to Di La center as all teachers are enthousiastic and loving towards the children.

I am proud of the fact that I’ve always said to want to teach abroad and now I did. And also that despite of teaching being different than what I am used to, I was able to give fun interactive lessons.

I would definitely recommend this program to others.”

by Brigitte Rimann 2018

 

Language and Cultural Exchange Project in Vietnam

 

 

Making a documentary in South Africa


By: Chiara Seidlitz | Posted on: 09 Aug 2018

 

“My time at the project in Mossel Bay was very special to me. This project really focuses on wildlife filmmaking and everything that comes with it. There hasn’t been a day where I was bored or felt out of place. Every single day was pure work, laughs and overall an amazing experience. I don’t know if I personally made a difference to the project but people like me who are willing to learn and meet new people in this field are the ones that make this project a success and a joy for everyone.

One of my biggest challenges was the fact that I’ve never edited before and we spend a good amount of time editing our films. I was often stuck and had to figure it out by myself but that’s how you learn the most, it’s by doing it yourself. I am very proud of myself that I learned so many useful things during my time there and extremely grateful for all the staff who helped me overcome my challenges. I am extremely satisfied with my short film and looking forward to doing another experience like that in the future. This project did meet my expectations and I would definitely recommend this to a friend who has experience in filmmaking.”

by Chiara Seidlitz

 

Wildlife Documentary Film-Making Internship in South Africa

 

 

Madagascar Volunteer Trip July 2018

Environmental Conservation Internship in Peru report by Javier


By: Regan Beauchamp | Posted on: 09 Aug 2018

 

“From July 1st to August 1st, I worked alongside the Madagascar project in construction and wildlife conservation in the Anosy region. The first two weeks I spent in the village of Manambaro constructing a primary school for the children along with three other volunteers and Malagasy locals hired by the project. We spent the bulk of our days moving granite rocks into the building and laying them together to build the floor. After the floors were started, we mixed cement by shovel for hours and passed it off to the Malagasy workers to lay down over the rocks and create a smooth flooring. The rest of our work consisted of painting the interior walls of the school and building desks for the children.

We all really enjoyed this work despite how physically challenging it could be. It was fulfilling to see our progress after only a few hours of work, and have tangible results as proof of our efforts. The children and older residents of Manambaro expressed their thanks to us by welcoming us into their home and offering us a meal, saying that our work made an important difference to the community.

After construction, they transported us to Sainte Luce Reserve to aid in wildlife conservation. This work primarily consisted of long forest walks to record data on lemurs, frogs, geckos, logging, tree growth, and other indicators of a healthy natural environment.  This work was at a much slower pace and overall less exciting than the construction work. For someone interested in herpetology or nature – the work is interesting. However I did not enjoy it as much. Nonetheless, I made the most of my time and am glad I got to experience both areas of the volunteer work.

The hardest part of the entire experience was probably the physical adjustment to the environment; everyone got diarrhea (some more than others) or other sicknesses. It rained every day for three weeks, which really developed a somber mood within the camp. Showering was only possible every 2-3 days due to the rain and was usually cold as a result of the dreary weather. Rice was the base of all of our meals, which was to be expected, but the lack of flavor and variety after 3-4 weeks was frustrating. The cooks did their best to switch it up by adding cabbage, pumpkin, chicken, or vegetables every day. But overall, rice based meals for 4 weeks was the hardest part for me.

The showering, sleeping, and eating conditions were expected and disclosed to us before travelling, and it was all doable without complaints because there was no alternative. This taught me to reject negative thoughts about my circumstances in Madagascar and acknowledge the contrast between my every day lifestyle in America and that of the Malagasy people. I definitely feel stronger and tougher in character after my time in the country, and I have a new found appreciation for the things I once took for granted such as a hot shower, plumbing, air conditioning and electricity, a comfortable bed, and full meals at any given time.

As for my expectations with the project – I thought wildlife conservation would be my favorite part of the entire trip, when really, construction took the spotlight. I did not expect to become so close to my fellow volunteers and to miss them so much when our time in Madagascar ended. I am thankful that this project brought us together from different corners of the world and connected us. I am grateful to the staff and our Malagasy guides for taking such good care of us at all times and treating us not as subordinates, but as equals. One thing I did not predict was the amount of laughter we all shared on the daily, and they are my favorite memories to share with those back home.

I would recommend this project to someone who wants to experience a culture unlike one they have seen before. This program is not for someone who is unable to adapt to a completely different way of living than that of a first world country. I would also not suggest this to someone who is highly impatient, because everything in the country does take a considerable amount of time. For those who love natural beauty and friendly and welcoming citizens, this country has plenty of it.

Overall, I am glad I signed up for this adventure. Though in the future I may choose a shorter amount of time in a third world country, I am grateful for the full experience and will remember my time in Madagascar for the rest of my life.”

by Regan Beauchamp 2018

 

Forestry and Wildlife Conservation in Madagascar

We loved our school, our kids, our community, and the life-long teacher friends we made along the way.

Catherine-Tansey-teaching-in-Thailand


By: Catherine Tansey | Posted on: 19 Jul 2018

 

“In January 2015 after finishing yet another miserable semester of nursing school, I decided to leave college: to take a break. To find myself, if you will. This turned out to be one of the best decisions I have ever made as it lead me to teaching English in Thailand.

Catherine-Tansey-teaching-in-ThailandIn March of the same year, my best friend was getting ready to graduate college in just a few months. Not yet ready to enter the workforce and begin her career, she sought out alternative options that would be constructive, illuminating, and allow her to travel.

After Googling “teach English abroad” she came across Global Nomadic’s site. She told me of her plans and I decided to go with her. We settled on Global Nomadic because Jeremy and his team made us feel cared for. We hadn’t dont much traveling at this point in our lives and the thought of booking a one-way flight literally across the world to Thailand was truly terrifying. We needed a little hand holding, you could say.

And hold our hands Jeremy did. He answered every neurotic email in a timely fashion, provided us with tons of material on the TEFL program we’d be joining, suggested packing lists, an intro to cultural expectations, and more.

We were very concerned about logistics — where would we live? How would we get from the airport to our accommodation? Would people speak English? How could they be so sure we’d get jobs? Jeremy answered all of these questions patiently and assuringly. He made us feel like despite this big crazy change in our lives, everything was going to be ok. More than ok— it was going to be great. And great it was.

Our handoff from Global Nomadic to the Samui team was seamless. We went from being well-cared for by one party to well-cared for by another. We were cultured shocked and mosquito bitten but deliriously happy and very excited.

Samui TEFl was no cake walk. It was a very thorough and, at times, intense program, but without it we would been lost in the classroom. Kathryn and Rosanne Catherine-Tansey-teaching-in-Thailandmade sure this was not the case. We learned methods for bringing the classroom’s attention back to the teacher, creating age-appropriate lesson plans, adjusting the material based on our students’ level of English, and most importantly, how to convey information when you don’t speak the same language.

The TEFL course was transformative. Kelsey and I found jobs together at a government school in a southeast Bangkok suburb called Chachoengsao after Samui TEFL. And while we stood there knees shaking and nervous on our first day of teaching, we drew on the wealth of knowledge and experience we had gained at Samui TEFL and we did just fine.

We loved our school, our kids, our community, and the life-long teacher friends we made along the way. We ate Pad Kaw Pro and Khao Mon Gai, drank Chang beer, and rode motorbikes everywhere. My students made me cards and hugged my knees, held my hand and thanked me constantly, and cried tears out of those big brown eyes when I left. I told them I’d always think of them, and think of them still, I do.

Catherine Tansey 2018″