Location: Alonissos, Greece
Duration: 7-day placements
Start Dates: Placements are available throughout the summer months, between June and October
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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
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 sorted.
Placement Support Package
For your trip, we will help you organise and plan everything you will need from start to finish. Our coordinators know each project & country like the back of their hand, and will be able to offer personalised advice to ensure your trip is well-planned & executed to perfection.
This includes one-to-one assistance planning and booking;
- Pre-departure Support - Flights, Visas, Vaccinations, Insurance, Essential Items and anything else you will need before you set off.
- Ongoing In-country Support - whilst you are on the project you can Contact us at any time with any questions or concerns and we will do whatever we can to help.
- 24/7 Emergency Support - a phone number that you or your family can ring at any time, night or day in case of emergency.
Our Placement Support Package costs £249 / $349 / €295 per person, and can be purchased once you are ready to confirm your place.