Projects Abroad | Marine Conservation

Greece: Dolphin Research Project

Alonissos, Greece


Location: Alonissos, Greece

Duration: 7-day placements

Start Dates: Placements are available between June and September – see Dates tab for more details

Cost: $950 USD / €850 EUR  Project Fee per 7 day trip (€100 Student discount available) – see Costs tab for further details


  • Work aboard a research vessel alongside marine scientists in the northern Aegean Sea.
  • Hands-on experience in cetacean conservation work and research.
  • Daily seminars given by resident staff or invited field specialists.
  • Ideal for marine biologists and students of animal science, environmental studies professionals and students.
  • Keywords: marine biology, zoology, environmental conservation, cetology research, seminars.
Costs Explained


The dolphin has had a close relationship with the human race for many millennia. It has been depicted in art and literature since before the time of the ancient Greeks and was considered an omen of good luck. It was sometimes even linked with the gods, to the extent that killing a dolphin equated killing another human and was punishable by death. Their intelligence and friendly appearance has continued to inspire fascination for this enigmatic creature throughout the ages. This close relationship has nonetheless never been an easy one and dolphins have been hunted for both their meat and skin throughout time. Today they are competing with humans for the remaining fish stock of our seas and are increasingly forced out of their habitats. Fishing equipment and boats are also a common cause of injury and death for dolphins worldwide.

There are four species of dolphins present in the Greek Seas, all of whom are considered threatened, yet no systematic research effort has been carried out so far to study their populations and ecology.

The Dolphin Research Internship programme aims to learn more about the dolphin populations in one of Europe’s largest marine protected areas, through recording populations and group sizes, identifying individuals, and recording behaviours and habits. As a volunteer you will help out on daily field surveys at sea where you will get to know the local dolphin population and help collect data. Back on land you will help with entering this data into databases, learning how to convert the collected data into effective conservation measures. You will also have the opportunity to attend lectures and seminars on marine mammals and local ecology, which will provide valuable insights into marine mammal life, monitoring techniques and other topics related to the local marine environment.

The important knowledge gathered during this research initiative will be used in the conservation of marine mammals in Greece and in the preparation of effective research and management actions for the local Cetacean population.

Daily Life

As the first study of its kind in the area, the project aims to estimate the relative abundance of the common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) and the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and identify important areas for them. One of the main components of the project will be to identify individuals and compile a photo-identification catalogue of the two species. The data collected will be used to analyse dolphin abundance, movements, reproductive success, habitat use, and social organization.

You will learn how to photograph individuals and groups of dolphins as well as record group size, composition (newborns, calves, juveniles, adults), and behavior. If other marine mammals are sighted, such as the critically endangered Mediterranean Monk seal, these will also be recorded along with any fisheries interactions.

You will be working alongside the resident researchers on board the organisation research vessel, a 13-metre long traditional wooden caique. As the heart of the organisations activities over the past 23 years, this boat has sailed many thousands of miles across the Greek seas.
The work at sea as well as preparations such as the loading and unloading of equipment will be undertaken in the mornings. In the afternoon you will return back to port for recreation and rest. In the afternoon and evenings you will be taught how to file, name, crop, and prepare digital photos of dolphin dorsal fins for subsequent matching as well as attend seminars and lectures from staff and visiting field specialists.

Among the skills and knowledge you will be taught are;

  • Cetacean life history, behaviour, and identification
  • Threats faced by marine mammals
  • Photo-identification techniques
  • Fisheries/marine mammal interactions
  • How the research data will be used for conservation and management purposes
  • Use of equipment (cameras, binoculars, GPS systems)
  • Data storage and computer software processing of digital photos for photo-identification of individuals

The project HQ is located on a relatively remote island in the Aegean Sea, where there are ample opportunities for enjoying the beautiful scenery on walking paths as well as exploring the pristine sea both above and below the surface, while kayaking, snorkelling or scuba diving.

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Travel & Accom.

You will be given easy-to-follow instructions on how to get from either Thessaloniki, Athens or Volos to the project location. Access to the island is by boat only, from one of three ports on the mainland.

Shared accommodation is provided in a fully equipped house close to the port. The house has 2 bedrooms with closets and a common porch, that can host up to five people, a bathroom and a separate shower room. There is fully equipped kitchen, where participants can cook, a library, and a big porch with a dinner table and views of the port. Clean sheets and towels are provided, and will be changed once during your weekly stay. You are expected to keep the house clean and tidy during your stay and clean before leaving.

Fundraising Help


The project is running on the following dates in 2019, please specify your preference when applying;

Week 1 10 to 16 June
Week 2 17 to 23 June
Week 3 24 June to 30 June
Week 4 1 to 7 July
Week 5 8 to 14 July
Week 6 15 to 21 July
Week 7 22 to 28 July
Week 8 29 July to 4 August
Week 9 5 August to 11 August
Week 10 12 to 18 August
Week 11 19 to 25 August
Week 12 26 August to 1 September
Week 13 2 to 8 September
Week 14 9 to 15 September
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  • Minimum age 18. Underage participants can be accommodated provided a legal guardian accompanies them.
  • Good spoken English to be able to communicate with other project members and attend seminars.
  • Be a good swimmer.
  • Be in good physical and mental health.
  • Be highly adaptable with life on a boat.
  • Be comfortable with sharing a room with a member of the opposite sex.
  • Necessary vaccinations.
  • Necessary flight & visas.
  • Full travel & medical insurance.


$950 USD / €850 Euros Project Fee per 7-day trip*

*Student discount of €100 per week deducted from the Project Fee.
** Currency conversions are approximate

What’s Included:

The Project Fee covers accommodation, in-country support, project activities and integration into the project as well as basic food supplies for breakfast and lunch, the latter usually taken onboard. In addition you will also be presented with a Certificate of Participation in the project and you will be given a t-shirt as a gift.

What’s not included:

Flights, visas, vaccinations, insurance, airport transfers and dinner are not included. Full assistance will be provided in getting all these arranged if you choose our premium support.

Premium Support Upgrade

We understand there’s a great deal to plan and organise for your trip. When booking a Placement, many of our participants choose to purchase our Premium Support Upgrade to benefit from the expertise, knowledge and experience of our Project Coordinators.

We can provide the personal advice you need to ensure your trip is organised with excellence and planned with efficiency; ensuring the very best experience possible. Read more about how we can help you.

Note: Map coordinates are approximate

Past Participants Say

Scarlet Kuijper
Nomad Rating
Project Impact
Extra Activities
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 Zan...
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Arnau Argemi
Nomad Rating
Project Impact
Extra Activities
  "For the summer of 2016, I decided I wanted to do participate in a volunteering program somewhere in Europe. Since I was twelve and became a scuba diver, Greece had become one of my top destinations for diving sites. So, I did some research on the programs available in different websites, and came across the Global Nomadic program in Alon...
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Alesha Huxter
United Kingdom
Nomad Rating
Project Impact
Extra Activities
This project was an amazing experience for me. Within the first 4 out of days research days, there were 5 sightings of groups of Bottlenose (Tursiops truncatus) and Common (Delphinus delphis) dolphins, which are both classified as Least Concern by the IUCN. There were no sightings on the 5th day, which had very little “on effort” (searching) ti...
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Adam Nunez
Nomad Rating
Project Impact
Extra Activities
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 ...
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