Brings you the best marine ecotourism experiences in Europe

Take an active part in a science-based conservation action in support of both dolphins and humans. During your 1-week stay, you will be part of a scientific team focused on the study and conservation of these amazing creatures in the beautiful coastal waters of western Greece. Here, you will work side-by-side with experienced researchers and conduct daily surveys at sea. You will see lots of dolphins, get to know them, actively contribute to field data collection and, back at the field station, help us download the data and process digital photos and scientific information.

Highlights

Dolphin Ionian Project
  • Be part of a conservation project in support of dolphins in the Ionian Sea while you learn about these amazing creatures. 
  • Gain knowledge of dolphin research methods at sea and engage in visual surveys of dolphins, sea turtles, birds and other fauna during navigation
  • Enjoy the Greek lifestyle, local customs and delicous gastronomy! 

Catch a glimpse

Ionian Dolphin Project

What to expect?

Ionian Dolphin Project

The Ionian Dolphin Project aims to understand, through long-term monitoring, how the local dolphin communities interact with their environment and how human activities—particularly fisheries and pollution—may affect its conservation status. By deploying state-of-the-art techniques, the project contributes tools to:

  • Inform management action.
  • Promote marine conservation in Greece.
  • Support conservation efforts in the wider Mediterranean region. 

Volunteers will conduct daily surveys onboard the research boat, working side-by-side with the researchers and contributing to field data collection. You will actively engage in visual surveys, looking for dolphins, sea turtles, birds and other fauna during navigation. As soon as dolphins are sighted, volunteers will help record angle and distance from the boat. During the sighting, you will help record dolphin spatial distribution and record dolphin group size (a demanding task, as dolphin groups are often large and fluid), record group composition (i.e. number of newborns, calves, juveniles and adults) and behavior at five-minute intervals throughout the duration of the sighting, collect fish scales with a dip net following surface feeding events performed by the dolphins, store the scale samples into numbered vials and file them, and look out for sea turtles, birds and other animals. All of us, research staff and volunteers alike, will be living in our field station in the quiet village of Vonitsa, on the southern shore of the Gulf of Ambracia.

By sharing every experience with us, and ultimately living a researcher’s life, you will gain a first-hand understanding of the motivations that inspire our work, appreciate its significance for dolphin conservation and learn about the importance of protecting the marine ecosystem and its wonderful inhabitants. The resident staff will present different aspects of the research during the first day, giving specific training and showing how the equipment is used. Direct everyday involvement in field activities and subsequent data analysis will provide you with opportunities to practice and learn much about dolphin research methods. We will give lectures and presentations about our work as cetacean scientists and on marine conservation issues, as well as involve you in informal and friendly round table discussions. We have much to learn from each other.

Our researchers are extensively experienced in giving presentations to non-specialist audiences, and can master a series of lectures taking advantage of presentations, short videos, and other entertaining visual tools. Interactivity will be key, and you will always be invited to participate by answering questions, reporting your own experiences and sharing your opinions with others. Quality data collection will be ensured through careful training of volunteers and by communicating to you the importance of recording unbiased data. If you feel uneasy with a given task, or find it too demanding, you will be assigned to another task or given more specific training, depending on the circumstances.

Cultural awareness is an important aspect in Greece, and all project participants will be informed of the local lifestyle and behaviour, and on the rationale behind local customs. This will allow everybody to appreciate the Greek lifestyle while enjoying teamwork and friendly relationships with local inhabitants of the village. The researchers will encourage you to mention food preferences, cultural or religious needs, and any other factors that might create conflict or uneasiness in a multi-national team, with the purpose of finding ways to accommodate personal preferences while avoiding dissatisfaction or conflict. Researchers will give the team a more detailed onsite project briefing on arrival.

Accomodation

Our field base is in the centre of the village of Vonitsa, just 50 meters away from the seaside. It consists of the first floor of a two-storey house and is divided into two areas. The first area is an apartment with a large living room, an open kitchen and a big balcony, two toilets with showers (one for the research staff and one for the project participants), two bedrooms (for our staff) and the office. The second area is a large comfortable loft of 90 square meters with a wooden floor and windows on three sides (front side with a sea view). Team members will use this loft to relax after the long hours spent at sea, work on dolphin data, and sleep. Male and female participants will share the same quarters, but male/female areas can be divided by separators. Participants will sleep on bunk beds. Sheets and blankets are provided. 

Food

Volunteers and researchers alike will engage in cooking and housekeeping shifts (on a rotation). Shared tasks will include meal planning and preparation. Please bring with you some recipes if you are not familiar with cooking. Dishwashing and house cleaning are also communal activities shared by all.

Vonitsa offers a choice of nice and inexpensive restaurants and taverns where volunteers may choose to eat dinner at their own expense (an average lunch or dinner costs about 12-18 Euro). Shopping is usually done by project staff members in Vonitsa, where one can find well-equipped, modern supermarkets and ingredients for the most demanding palates.

At the house there will always be a good provision of fresh water or ice, and juices. Alcoholic beverages will be available at your own expense, provided you make moderate and appropriate use of them.

  • Breakfast: Greek yogurt, cereal, biscuits, toast, butter, jam/marmalade, honey
  • Lunch: Salad, cheese, olives, freshly baked pies and excellent bread from the local bakery and fresh fruits. Dinner: Pasta, rice, meat, seafood, cooked/stuffed vegetables, sauces, etc.
  • Snacks/Other: Crackers, fruit, tomatoes, olives, cheese
  • Beverages: Coffee, tea, milk, fruit juices, soft drinks
  • Water: Tap water (tastes good and is safe for drinking and cooking) 


Price and optionals

Ionian Dolphin Project
  •   From: € 830.00 per person
  •   Includes:
    • Full-board
    • Research activities
    • Large loft (shared with the other participants)

Important info

Ionian Dolphin Project
  •   Duration: 7 days
  •   Effort: Active
  •   Skills required: Beginner
  •   Difficulty level: Easy
  •   Languages spoken: English
  •   Minimum group size: 1
  •   Maximum group size: 5

Please alert us about any special dietary requirements (e.g. diabetes, lactose intolerance, nut or other serious food allergies) as soon as possible. Accommodating special diets is not guaranteed and can be very difficult due to availability of food, location of field sites, and other local conditions. 

Participants are expected to:

  • Be able to spend long hours at sea, usually under the hot sun – there is no sunshade available on the boat. Conditions out at sea in the summer months can be quite hot and those with intolerance to sun and heat might find this project challenging. However, just in case, volunteers are also recommended to bring some warm and/or waterproof clothing in the event of changing weather conditions.
  • Be able to walk short distances. Volunteers won’t be asked to carry any weight if they are not able.
  • Have a basic level of swimming for safety reasons, since the research will involve spending many hours onboard a small boat (however, you are not required to be able to swim a long distance).
  • Weigh less than 120 kilograms/265 pounds so as to keep the boat in balance and facilitate free movement onboard. 


Location

Ionian Dolphin Project

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Ionian Dolphin Project
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Reviews

Total Reviews: 1 Votes (10/10)
Manel
Manel Gazo Spain (13/11/2017)

I had the chance to be on board the Ionian Dolphin Project last summer. Nice fieldwork team, beautiful landscape and place to stay and full of respect for dolphins being studied.

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Local Operator

Member of Wildsea Europe since 19/06/2017
ISTITUTO TETHYS ONLUS
A non-profit organization for the study and conservation of the marine environment
ISTITUTO TETHYS ONLUS
Viale G.B. Gadio 2
Milano Milano Lombardia (Italy)

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ISTITUTO TETHYS ONLUS
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Travellers reviews1 review(s)

Manel
Manel Gazo Spain (13/11/2017)

I had the chance to be on board the Ionian Dolphin Project last summer. Nice fieldwork team, beautiful landscape and place to stay and full of respect for dolphins being studied.

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Senior (from 66)
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Children (from 3 to 10)