About the Bottlenose Dolphin Research Volunteer Project
This project is the longest ongoing study of a resident population of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Mediterranean Sea.
The research focuses on dolphin population dynamics, photo – identification, behavioural sampling, acoustic monitoring, and the collection of stranding data for genetic, forage ecology and toxicological analysis. Data is used to produce a regular report on the status and ecology of the population and to offer solutions for their effective conservation. From the research station at Veli Lošinj we monitor the daily behaviour of the bottlenose dolphins of the region. It is now possible to identify around 450 individual dolphins with the help of photo-identification.
The Day of a Dolphin Research Volunteer
There is no typical day……… Much of what we do is based on sea conditions. If the sea is calm and the weather is fine, you board the boat to search for dolphins. The moment the dolphins are sighted, everyone on board has a specific task to fulfil. A researcher will take photos for the photo-identification. Your task as project participant is to record data; the time, the number and breakdown of animals, their behavioural activity and their names as the researcher calls them out. In some cases you may be asked to be involved in acoustic sampling. This involves stopping the boat regularly to place the hydrophone in the water.
If the sea is not calm, the team remains at the base (LMEC) analysing data and preparing papers and reports, as well as doing everyday duties. A daily lecture is offered on aspects of cetacean biology or the marine environment. In free time volunteers may visit the island, enjoy the beauty of discovering new paths and beaches for swimming and snorkelling in the crystal clean sea.
Dolphin Research Volunteers are also expected to assist in educational activities of the Lošinj marine educational centre (LMEC). Duties will include helping out the staff and students, taking visitors around the centre and explaining exhibits. Sunday is designated as a free day for both volunteers and researchers. On this day other activities such as diving can be organised.
The small (6 m), low noise craft, allows the easy approach of the wild dolphins and follow them for a long time without the animals being disturbed by our presence. The craft is equipped with all safety and scientific gear.
“Over the last 20 years, volunteers have played a key role in monitoring the local population of wild bottlenose dolphins, covering 78 668 km in search for dolphins and helping with data collection during 1648 observations. The data collected is contributing to the establishment of efficient measurements for their protection” – quote from the Project Manager