Whale & dolphin research in Ligurian Sea, Italy

“Sign up for six days as a full crew member on a 21m Motorsailer boat (max group size 11) and study cetaceans living in the Pelagos Sanctuary. ”

Highlights

Ligurian Sea | Pelagos Sanctuary | research focuses on: sperm whales, fin whales, Risso's dolphins, striped and bottlenose dolphins | direct involvement in field activities | lectures on cetaceans, marine biology and conservation | sighting, computer, navigation and boat keeping shifts | freetime to swim and relax |

Description of Whale & dolphin research in Ligurian Sea, Italy

The stretch of Mediterranean that runs between northwest Italy and Tuscany, bordering Corsica in the process, is known as the Ligurian Sea and it's this natural habitat that has become a haven for watching whales and dolphins in Italy.

Alongside whales and dolphins, Italy's northwest coastline also contains numerous other marine animals which are known to thrive and coexist with cetaceans within the Mediterranean basin however, negative human impact is threatening this existence at an alarming rate.

Since the early 90's research has been carried out to investigate the behaviour, population numbers and preferred habitats of cetaceans living within a protected area of the Ligurian Sea, known as the Pelagos Sanctuary. This specially bordered marine zone stretches from southern France to Sardinia and the Ligurian coast in Italy, whale watching tending to focus upon large fin whales, sperm whales and well-known Italy dolphins such as Risso's, striped and bottlenose.

Identifying, tracking and recording information about whales and dolphins in Italy and France is crucial for helping to preserve the natural world which is why this six day research cruise is as much about discovering the beautiful marine ecology of the Mediterranean as preserving it for years to come.

Upon arrival group members will be invited to join in with activities in the field where they'll be helping with research and assisting in collecting and analysing data on cetaceans prior to updating computer records. Digital photo analysis and initial identification work will also be carried out by participants with presentations on marine biology, research techniques, conservation and cetaceans in general helping to build on knowledge acquired assisting researchers in the field.

Participants will also be required to become full crew members which means they'll be assigned certain roles and duties alongside research tasks such as cleaning, food prep, cooking and helping to operate the craft. Full training will be given in order for participants to learn, develop and understand research techniques and nautical procedures and as such no experience is required.

The overall price for this six day research cruise includes bed, board, insurance, training, presentations and all scientific tuition and supervision. Groups range from six to no more than 11 people with day to day research tasks dependant on the weather. The survey and research craft used throughout the cruise is a 21 metre Motorsailer boat with chances to stay offshore possible depending on specific survey programmes as well as the state of the sea and strength of the wind.

Standard survey days find the crew rising between 7 and 8am with research starting after breakfast and continuing until a designated harbour or sheltered anchorage is reached from where to spend the night.

Finally, although participants will be involved in computer data entry, hydrophone listening, checking the course and speed of the craft, general housekeeping and whale and dolphin watching, Italy is, of course, a naturally beautiful location so relaxing, sunbathing and swimming are also a rewarding part of the experience.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

01273 823 700 Calling from outside the UK?

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Volunteer travel - what's it all about

Are you looking for an adventurous trip with a purpose, or on a gap year or career break? If you want to make a difference in some of the world’s most important conservation areas - and in community projects - then volunteer trips are for you! Volunteers tend to have a sense of adventure, and come from a range of different backgrounds and from all over the world.
Edward Abbey said 'sentiment without action is the ruin of the soul'.

Responsible tourism

Whale & dolphin research in Ligurian Sea, Italy

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

In 1990 Tethys Research Institute was the first to propose the creation of a Marine Reserve in the Corso-Ligurian basin, based on original data collected in the field. After a decade of lobbying by us and others, the Governments of Italy, France and Monaco signed a joint Declaration for the creation of the Pelagos Sanctuary for Cetaceans. This has been a major conservation success in the region. The agreement, finally ratified in 2003, represents an important step towards the final goal of ensuring protection to whales and dolphins living in the area.

The aim of the our research project is to provide a scientific basis for the management of Pelagos. Intensive research conducted by the project is highlighting the conservation needs of several cetacean species and has been raising remarkable awareness. Since 1992, almost 4,000 volunteers participated in the research cruises. Living on board and co-operating to different aspects of the research creates a bond between researchers and volunteers, leading to a stronger commitment to environmental conservation.

Participants are informed about marine ecosystem damage caused by human activities and provided with sets of solutions ranging from personal changes of behaviour (e.g. responsible consumption of seafood) to collaboration with NGOs active in environmental protection. Ways to address the main threats facing cetaceans and the marine environment are discussed in the context of informal 'round tables'. The participation in this projects is - in itself - a way of supporting the work of a group committed to the conservation of marine biodiversity.

How this company makes a difference: We are a non-profit research organization partner to ACCOBAMS, the UNEP's Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area. We aim to protect the Mediterranean biodiversity by promoting the adoption of a precautionary approach for the management of natural resources.

Public awareness and conservation activities, coupled with education and capacity building, find their strength in our 30+ years of experience studying cetaceans in several Mediterranean countries. Our work seeks to prevent the decline of marine species and to encourage a sustainable use of the marine environment, particularly where habitat degradation makes it necessary.

We have contributed over 500 scientific publications that substantially increase present understanding of Mediterranean cetaceans. Over the past two decades we have trained and involved in our research activities thousands of people from around the world. We participated in countless management and conservation meetings, and organized a number of actions to raise local and regional awareness on the need to protect whales, dolphins, and the ecosystem that supports them.

Photo credits: Federico Bendinoni, Sabina Airoldi/Tethys Research Institute

9 Reviews of Whale & dolphin research in Ligurian Sea, Italy

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Reviewed on 21 Jul 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing dolphins for the first time

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Seriously, pack light. Especially if travelling in warmer months.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


No obvious benefit to local people or environmental impacts, but certainly appeared to support conservation

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Living conditions are certainly not luxurious, but if willing to rough it a little and help out, it is a greatly enjoyable holiday. You get very close to a group of strangers very quickly.

Reviewed on 06 Jul 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Seeing species of Whales that I had not seen before

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Travel light

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Not sure

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Very good

Reviewed on 24 Sep 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The most memorable probably listening to the sperm whales under water and how through the codas that they emit you could always tell when they were about to surface. The most exciting, the sighting of the fin whale. All in all the whole trip was an amazing experience with lovely crew/researchers and guests.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


You really don't need to bring a lot of stuff as you probably won't need it.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I am not sure if I actually supported conservation through it, but it definetely created an awareness of the animals living in the mediterranean and how my day to day activities have an impact on them and got some very useful tips on how to reduce my own impact. The work the operator is doing is definitely valuable for the whole ecosystem and the idea of including non-researchers on their trips is magnificent.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was definitely one of my best two trips ever. Loved the people in the group, the activities, the animals and the overall experience. I would definitely recommend it.

Reviewed on 09 Sep 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Observing the sperm whale flukes and using photo identification to determine that
we had spotted a previously unrecorded individual.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Pack lightly, there is limited space on board. Being quite agile and steady on
your feet will be very advantageous when out at sea and needing to walk around
the boat and climb up to the lookout platform.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


The research conducted by provides valuable data to support conservation
efforts and increase public awareness of the marine mammals present in the
sanctuary.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent - fun, friendly and highly knowledgeable team made it a very worthwhile
experience.

Reviewed on 17 Jun 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Discovering cetaceans 'in real'.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Don't hesitate but keep in mind it is not a cruise but you are there to help. Fun but can be tiring. Worth it

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I hope so

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent

Reviewed on 06 Aug 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Great spottings of whales and dolphins - baby bottlenose dolphins.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Sea sickness pills/ patches or bands could be useful if you are sensitive.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Excellent research organisation - all funding comes from participants so essential to the work they are doing to conserve the cetacean populations in the pelagos sanctuary.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Excellent, certainly one of the best experiences I have had on an organised tour.

Reviewed on 12 Sep 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Just being on the ocean seeing so many marine animals created memories which will last forever. So many sightings of whales and dolphins and even multiple sightings of "solitary" sperm whales!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Just join in, learn and experience. Don't pack too much, you won't need it.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Every effort was made to minimise any adverse environmental impact whether that was reducing fresh water usage and the standard use of biodegradable cleaning products, including shampoo and body wash prior to daily "marine baths". As the purpose of the holiday was to participate in cetacean research conservation was paramount, both by recording the numbers etc of cetacean species and recording the environmental conditions each hour.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Fantastic. An experience to remember. I would rate it 4 and a half stars if I could!

Reviewed on 30 Jul 2012 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


When I saw the playful dolphins in the middle of the Ligurian sea.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


I would suggest to travel light, put lots of sun block and take part in all the activities, research and tasks if possible. Do not go with any agendas as the weather plays a big part in the research.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes of course. Conservation of cetaceans is of utmost importance and using biodegradable products as well. Local people are very aware of the environment and Sanremo is a very clean and well looked after place.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


My research/ holiday was great. I would give it 9 out of 10. The team was wonderful and so were the members of the group/volunteers.

Reviewed on 21 Oct 2011 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The whole experience was truly magical and deeply satisfying. Seeing whales close up with experts and having the privilege to understand the behaviour of these animals was the best part, as well as feeling like a valued member of the research.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Travel light.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, and minimized impacts on the environment?


Yes. It was really good to meet the local captain and be part of a local project.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


10 out of 10!

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