Reports from the Field

Italy Whale and Dolphin Conservation

This project came to my attention spontaneously while I was job searching on LinkedIn and I decided to apply to give myself a new unforgettable experience. Overall, it definitely was a trip to remember.


Traveling to the location was a bit of a journey, but nonetheless, an adventure in itself. I had to fly to Roma, take a connection to Napoli, grab an Alibus to the port for ferries, and take a ferry to Ischia to the Casamicciola harbour to find everyone aboard the “Jean Gab” (the boat we spent majority of our days on). To my surprise, the crew told me the Jean Gab was build almost 100 years ago in 1930.


The crew on board were so friendly and open to teaching us volunteers how to identify cetaceans, how to utilize the sensory tools, as well as just conversing with us about their research and lives in general. The captain is also a fantastic cook and we all bonded immediately after the first meal which made the entire trip very light-hearted and wholesome.


As volunteers, our main responsibility was helping the researchers look out and spot cetaceans every day we departed the harbour out to the Mediterranean Sea. There is no guarantee we would see an animal everyday, but when we did, it was breathtaking every time. We also shared chores as well as assisted the crew with mooring and departing everyday.


This project is a great first experience for those wanting to get into marine conservation. You learn about the animals and cetaceans you spot and it is a great way to create awareness of the issues surrounding marine life and human interactions around the Mediterranean. Even though spending days out as sea with a potential of not seeing anything may be a deterrent, you know for sure the data that is collected throughout the day will be helpful and used through academia and even within the political sphere with regards to creation and drafting of new environmental and conservation policies.


I definitely recommend this project for all those interested in getting their first feel in marine conservation and/or for those wanting to experience and create unique relationships with people and the environment.

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Heidi Kwok