Location: Ischia, Italy
Duration: 6-day placements
Start Dates: Placements are available throughout the summer months, from May to October
Cost: from €900 (depending upon when you go) per 6-day trip – see ‘Costs’ tab for further details
- Work and study aboard a sailboat cruising the Mediterranean, exploring marine life, researching while attending onboard lectures from seasoned scientists
- Hands-on experience monitoring and observing, acoustic analysis, and seamanship
- Ideal for Marine Biologists and Animal Science, Environmental studies professionals, and students
- Keywords: marine biology, environmental conservation, cetology research, field-courses
For those wishing to jumpstart or further a career in marine biology, or for more casual conservationists keen to enjoy Italy’s ‘dolce vita’ while contributing to ecological research, this one-week Marine Biology Course on the Italian island of Ischia is for you. You will specifically investigate declining cetacean populations in the Italian Mediterranean with a local non-profit, living aboard a historical cutter ship of 18 m and contributing to ongoing academic research and conservation initiatives.
The waters off the Island of Ischia offer a unique opportunity to study cetaceans. Since 1991, seven different Mediterranean cetacean species have been recorded.
The presence of several species gives the project a unique occasion to study and compare the behavioral ecology of the animals. The project’s principal goal is to protect whales’ and dolphins’ habitats, corrupted and threatened by human activities.
Cetacean threats in the Mediterranean include prey depletion, contamination by xenobiotics, bycatch, marine traffic, and underwater noise caused by shipping, mineral prospecting (seismic), and military sonar.
Thanks to the amount of collected and published data, in 2017, the IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force recognized the coastal waters of Ischia and Ventotene as Important Marine Mammals Area (IMMA), with common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin, and fin whale as key species.
The Archipelagos Pontino and Campano were also identified as IMMA, with sperm whales as qualifying species.
The research is conducted in collaboration with CIBRA, MPA “Regno di Nettuno”, MPA Isole di Ventotene e S. Stefano.
Any economic support for the project comes exclusively from participants in the summer courses, private sponsors, and foundations. Thanks to the participation of volunteers who chose to spend their holidays collaborating on the project, it has been possible to go on in our effort until today.
Participants live onboard the research vessel Jean Gab, which preferably navigates under sail. Your stay will primarily be dedicated to the research activities, and all participants will participate in the fieldwork. Every day, except for the arrival and departure days, will be spent at sea, according to the project and weather conditions. Your duties onboard consist of helping researchers monitor dolphins. Dolphin behavior is recorded together with geographic position, group size, group composition, group formation, surface activity patterns, and duration of surfacing intervals. Behavioral sampling is coupled with acoustic recordings of dolphin vocalizations to relate the sounds produced by the animals to different behavioral activities. Navigation data are collected to estimate the cetacean distribution and habitat use. You will also help record the presence of sea turtles, tuna, swordfish, fish schools, mantas, moonfish, and marine birds.
Get on board with this unique project and gain invaluable research, monitoring, and evaluation skills while enjoying Italian wine and the clear waters of the Med.
Travel & Accom.
You will receive easy-to-follow instructions to get from Naples (Capodichino) International Airport to the island, where you will find the boat and meet the project staff.
You will live on board the cutter ship. You will be in a shared cabin with basic bathroom and kitchen facilities. Interested volunteers can learn the main riggings to sail such as steering, hoisting, and striking the sails, and gain confidence with sheets, halyards, compass, and courses. You can also collaborate with the crew during the mooring.
We remind you that life on board a sailing vessel like Jean Gab is a choice: a simple, communal, and eco-compatible lifestyle conserving energy and resources.
There is very little privacy behind the curtains of the cabins.
Nevertheless, the spaces are large enough, and the sea and the sky will offer you unlimited horizons, and each watching shift will give you the possibility to taste the peace of sailing.
This placement is particularly suited to those looking to gain a career in marine biology or environmental conservation. You do not need any specific skills, although any you do have will be very beneficial.
- Min age 16 (with parental consent)
- Minimum 6 days commitment
- Reasonable physical fitness
- Be highly adaptable, an essential requirement for living on a boat
- Be interested in nature conservation and animal protection and have a positive attitude towards working with people from different countries
- Full travel & medical insurance
- Necessary flights & visas
2024 Dates and Fees
|Arrival||Departure||Fee||Second Turn Fee|
|6-May||12-May||900 €||830 €|
|13-May||19-May||900 €||830 €|
|20-May||26-May||900 €||830 €|
|27-May||2-Jun||900 €||830 €|
|3-Jun||9-Jun||900 €||830 €|
|10-Jun||16-Jun||900 €||830 €|
|17-Jun||23-Jun||900 €||830 €|
|24-Jun||30-Jun||900 €||830 €|
|1-Jul||7-Jul||900 €||830 €|
|26-Aug||1-Sep||900 €||830 €|
|2-Sep||8-Sep||900 €||830 €|
|9-Sep||15-Sep||900 €||830 €|
|16-Sep||22-Sep||900 €||830 €|
|23-Sep||29-Sep||900 €||830 €|
|30-Sep||6-Oct||900 €||830 €|
|7-Oct||13-Oct||900 €||830 €|
|14-Oct||20-Oct||900 €||830 €|
*All payments incur a 5% bank transfer fee.
** Second Turn discounts available
Project Fee includes all accommodation, insurance, in-country support, electricity and gas, port fees, scientific supervision and lectures on cetaceans held by the researchers, Certificate of Participation (upon request), orientation, and all project-related activities.
What’s not included:
Meals and petrol (30 euros per day, to be paid on site), flights, airport pick-up, visas (if applicable), and vaccinations. Full assistance will be provided in if you choose our premium support.
Premium Support Upgrade
We understand there’s a great deal to plan and organize 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 organized 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