I participated to the Dolphin Research Project in the Marine National Park of North Sporades in the first week of September. It all started at the beginning of the summer, I was looking for a job on Linkedin and saw an opportunity to participate to a marine biology project in Greece, thanks to Global Nomadic, I’ve always wanted to participate in a volunteering program since I’m a young kid, and this seemed like THE opportunity for these years. I saved some money over the summer for all the transport and living expenses.
I took my tickets knowing that I would miss the beginning of classes, but to me, an experience on the field is more worth it, and that’s in that mindset that I wanted to spend the week. Learning from skilled and genuine people, seeing what could be done, what could be thought to make things better. I reached the port of Alonissos on September 2nd in the afternoon and immediately got warmly welcomed by Kimon, the marine biologist in charge of the project for the summer, and the information staff. I met Dimos and Lila, two other volunteers that became my friends over the week. I spent a lot of time with Kimon, who told me more about the project and about how we would proceed. The 3 first days of research in the boat with captain Kostas, Kimon and the others went quite unsuccessful in term of spotting dolphins. This was mainly due to the weather conditions, the wind not letting us have adequate visibility. However, I learned so much (mainly thanks to Kimon) about the region, Mediterranean Cetaceans characteristics and how they have been seen behaving in the area.
The dynamics of the Marine National Park were very interesting to me, and indeed necessary to have a better understanding of the project goal(s). The Alonissos island is amazingly beautiful, and the area around the port and the people I met there were was as amazing (I will only mention it but the food I ate for a week there was truly godlike). On Thursday I got the opportunity to dive, I saw so many fish ! I feel like the fishing restrictions of Alonissos really have a positive impact, not only on the fish but also for the dolphins. Kimon told me that over the past three years, this area of the Marine Park became the only place in the Mediterranean sea where populations of the Common Dolphin were increasing, traducing a healthier environment for them. I really think that this project can make a difference for the future.
By analyzing behaviours and dynamics among and between the Common and Bottlenose dolphins, there is a chance for us to make the changes or implement the regulations needed for their protection and conservation. I got lucky and saw them ! It was an amazing moment, from the moment we spot them coming to the boat, and the whole time they’ve been spending around us. You could feel the excitement of the other volunteers on the boat as well, such crazy sensations when we interact with wildlife ! I’m very happy that we were able to see them even with the wind conditions. This was the reward of a whole week spent literally scanning the sea.
Finally, I spent so much time with people from the World (Portugal, Spain, Brazil) and I’m so glad that I got able to learn more about Greece and its people. I don’t think I could have experienced a better position for my first time in Greece and I would recommend this project to any nature lover, that want to know more about the REAL Greece, not the one you see in touristic pictures.