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.
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
740 excluding flights
Convert currency:
6 Days
Small group
Not Accepted
More info
10% discount for students (under 26) on some courses.
Price includes all meals on board for the duration of the course
Make enquiry

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.

Price information

740 excluding flights
Convert currency:
10% discount for students (under 26) on some courses.
Price includes all meals on board for the duration of the course
Make enquiry

Check dates

For departure dates contact us on 01273 823 700

Travel guides

Whale watching
There is something mysterious and almost mystical about whales. Thanks to their epic migrations, their phenomenally deep dives, their great age and th...
Dolphin watching
Humans have long attributed divine qualities to these mysterious, marine mammals, who have been documented saving humans from drowning and sharks; as ...


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

4.5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 10 Sep 2023 by

The crew were kind, considerate and helpful. Read full review

Reviewed on 08 Aug 2023 by

Great crew, great insights, great experience. Read full review

Reviewed on 07 Jun 2022 by

Fantastic Read full review

Reviewed on 05 Sep 2022 by

All the marine life I saw, followed by the educational lectures. Sighting a sperm and a firm whale, after searching for them using the hydrophone and visual searches, was incredibly rewarding. Seeing dolphins swim along the boat, be playful and the pods of pilot whales by the boat. It felt unreal. Read full review

Reviewed on 14 Aug 2020 by

A wonderful way of discovering and seeing more of the Mediterranean cetaceans - and other too rarely seen inhabitants (a mola mola, a blue shark, many more turtles than expected.) Sharing life on board with the research team is a great way of understanding research and conservation issues. Read full review

Reviewed on 21 Jul 2016 by

Seeing dolphins for the first time....Living conditions are certainly not luxurious, but if willing to rough it a little and help out, it is a greatly enjoyable holiday Read full review

Reviewed on 06 Jul 2015 by

Saw species of Whales that I had not seen before! Read full review

Responsible Travel

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we've screened this (and every) holiday so that you can travel knowing it will help support the places and people that you visit, and the planet. Read how below.


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.

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


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.

Popular similar holidays

Sardinia and Corsica wellness sailing holiday

Sardinia and Corsica wellness sailing holiday

From 2191 8 days excluding flights

Luxury wellness sailing adventure in Sardinia and Corsica

Amalfi Coast sailing holiday, Italy

Amalfi Coast sailing holiday, Italy

From 1791 - 2247 7 days excluding flights

Gorgeous beaches, ancient ruins & sumptuous fresh seafood

Sardinia sailing and trekking holiday

Sardinia sailing and trekking holiday

From 1380 - 1680 8 days excluding flights

Sail & Hike between turquoise sea & wild coast in Sardinia