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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21 Jun 2021
€900
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Vouchers
Not Accepted
Holiday type

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

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

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.


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

The Impacts of this Trip

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.

Climate

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

4.5 out of 5 stars
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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

Reviewed on 24 Sep 2013 by

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. Read full review

Reviewed on 09 Sep 2013 by

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

Reviewed on 17 Jun 2013 by

Excellent...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 Read full review

Reviewed on 06 Aug 2012 by

The most memorable part were the great spottings of whales and dolphins - baby bottlenose dolphins...Excellent, certainly one of the best experiences I have had on an organised tour. Read full review

Reviewed on 12 Sep 2012 by

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!...Fantastic. Read full review

Reviewed on 30 Jul 2012 by

The most memorable part of the holiday was when I saw the playful dolphins in the middle of the Ligurian sea...My research/ holiday was great. I would give it 9 out of 10. Read full review

Reviewed on 21 Oct 2011 by

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. Read full review

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