What will I be doing?Daily tasks will be centred on data collection. Along with a small group of other volunteers drawn from around the world, you’ll be assisting permanent researchers to collect data on population trends and behaviours using techniques including dorsal fin photography and GPS recordings. You’ll be studying distribution, social activity, environment and breeding rates, and also keeping an eye out for other local residents such as rare monk seals, turtles, fish and sea birds, and the relationships between the animals and different communities, particularly fishermen.
The aim is to support the work of organisations determining how and to what extend dolphins are being affected by human activity, to inform management techniques, and promote marine conservation in the Mediterranean region. And if that all sounds complicated, it’s not, and by the end of your first day you will be well into the swing of things.
It’s not all work however. These are still holidays, and every itinerary will have time set aside for volunteers to swim, snorkel, and wander island beaches in between research sessions. Lunches will usually be prepared and eaten on the boats, then instead of wiping your chin with a napkin, just dive in to the sea – one of those little cetacean comforts.
No prior experience or skills are required, as all training is provided by the welcoming permanent team. You just need an open mind, a positive attitude, and a willingness to get stuck in and help. In the evenings, optional talks or films may be offered by field biologists on subjects such as dolphin behaviours, marine research, or the environmental challenges that the region faces.
It’s worth pointing out that some itineraries may involve regular and lengthy travelling aboard rigid hulled inflatable boats – these can be quite a bumpy ride, so if you do suffer from any back or neck problems, you should discuss these with the operator before booking a trip.