"It was such an amazing life experience"
Nika Pitalo, from Croatia, volunteered for 2 weeks in June-July
I really enjoyed my time in Veli Lošinj. It was such an amazing life experience, loving and welcoming people, beautiful scenery and breathtaking views of dolphins. I would definitely recommend this program and I am hoping to repeat it next year!
"I would recommend this trip to anyone needing exposure to the marine biology field"
Emily Bensema, from USA, was part of the Vets Without Borders group that joined in May
I had such an amazing experience in Croatia with the Bottlenose Dolphin Research Project. It was the perfect experience for me because I had been very conflicted in if I wanted to pursue my DVM to specialize in aquatic animals or to just earn a masters in marine biology. The exposure that this project gave me to both veterinarians and marine biologists greatly helped my viewpoint, and made me content with my decision to begin my masters this semester. Everyone was so kind and ready to help us learn. The project coordinators went out of their way to formulate a trip aimed towards our pre-veterinary group’s interests. The apartment we stayed in was very nice and the interns were so kind and helpful as well. I would recommend this trip to anyone needing exposure to the marine biology field.
Thanks so much for a great working abroad experience.
"I cannot talk highly enough about the experience we had"
Reena Gannon, from USA, was part of the Vets Without Borders group that joined in May
I cannot talk highly enough about the experience we had. The interns and staff were very kind and accommodating. We were very hands on and were able to learn a lot. Our turtle necropsy and lecture experience was also an amazing part of our trip; we loved that they took into account that we are pre-vet students. We thoroughly enjoyed our time.
"A truly unforgettable experience"
Julian Payne, from the UK, joined as a volunteer on the project in September
I had a great time with the Dolphin Research project. Lovely people, and a well established and directed scientific research NGO. I really appreciated being able to contribute to their research in a meaningful way. I was also blessed with amazingly calm seas the whole time I was there. A truly unforgettable experience, and one I would consider doing again in the future.
"The entire trip makes for unique memories"
Laura Butula, a student from Croatia, joined the project in June
I really want to thank everyone for the incredible time in Lošinj, the entire trip makes for unique memories. On the first day in the office, I was immediately put to the task of creating a short film for our volunteer group. I think that being able to access the data base full of photos and videos of the dolphins really enables volunteers to become more excited about the project, as one is able to see the different dolphins in the area and everything suddenly becomes more realistic; therefore, I think the activities such as the ‘challenge’ that included drawing fins and matching their marks to dolphin names (this was my favourite!) is both thrilling and shows volunteers some key points of the project.
One thing I would try improve on is the amount of boat outings volunteers experience. I understand this is based on the weather and it is better to not risk anything, but there were also a few days that we stayed in the office when the sea seemed calm enough for us to get on the boat and collect data. Our group saw the dead calf and it was traumatic, but I think it’s very important for the institute to continue posting articles/posts related to such experiences on social media as it intrigues old and new volunteers and encourages people to help.
"I can't recommend the volunteering experience highly enough"
Jan Ensum, from the UK, joined as a volunteer in June 2018
I had a wonderful time, thank you. I really enjoyed myself, everything came up to expectations and more, and I felt really privileged to have played a small part in such a distinguished and well run project. Tihana and Marco in particular couldn’t have made me feel more welcome – good friends from day 1! The lectures were just right and very interesting; on the boats we really felt part of a working team, and the time ended with a lovely meal together and the kindest gifts. I can’t recommend the volunteering experience highly enough for anyone of any age!
"I will definitely go again"
Ashleigh Horton, an Environmental Conservation student from the UK, joined the project in September
I had a wonderful time on the project and learned a lot from the experience. I would greatly recommend the trip as not only does it help a great cause but it is fun to learn about the wildlife in that part of the Adriatic. The team were kind and supportive of us and I made friends within the team, we were given time to relax as well as enough work to keep us busy! I truly enjoyed every moment of it, even the days when we didn’t get to go out on the boat and see dolphins, because we got to contribute to the research in other ways. I will definitely go again, if I get the chance or perhaps another WorkingAbroad project.
"The 2 weeks I spent on the project were absolutely amazing"
Jésabelle Kibanda from Belgium volunteered at the project in August
The 2 weeks I spent on the project were absolutely amazing and an experience that I will never forget. Everything was perfect: the group of volunteers, the organisation of the day-to- day activities, the days spent on or off the sea, and of course, our encounters with the dolphins! Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us!
"We already want to go back"
Suzanne and Janelle Starkiewicz from Canada joined in July-August
This was an experience of a life time that we’ll never forget! Seeing the dolphins in the wild and being able to contribute to valuable research was very rewarding and special. The accommodation was lovely with an amazing view of Mali Losinj. The interns, staff, and researchers at the project were all wonderful people who were full of knowledge about dolphins and the ocean. You can tell they are all really passionate about what they do and their passion is contagious. We would recommend this experience to anyone especially if you are interested in dolphins, the ocean, and research. We already want to go back.
"A beautiful place working on a fascinating project"
Borbála Király from Hungary joined as a volunteer in July
My volunteering went very well! The accommodation was very nice and clean with a beautiful view to the harbour in Losinj, also the interns were welcoming and helpful, there was no problem with the arrival. Tihana was also helpful and gave us information on the first day of arrival, about the project and the upcoming activities. Through the project, we got to experience how field work and office work is, also we learned a lot about the project itself and the Adriatic sea.
Teamwork was always easy both on the boat and land, as the other volunteers were also friendly and open minded, ready for challenges. I mainly participated in the program because I wanted to have an overall idea what marine biology is like (more or less, I know this project didn’t cover every side of it), because I want to be a marine biologist.
The program didn’t disappoint me at all, what is more it ensured me in my goals and ambitions! Even though it was a project about bottlenose dolphins we got to learn about a lot of other marine animals such as see turtles, and how they are affected. Overall I met with amazing people, at a beautiful place working on a fascinating project, thank you for the experience!
"We enjoyed every moment of our stay"
Students Jozef Koval, from Slovakia, Anton Zukovski, from Estonia, Annija Uzule, from Latvia, Agata Kawiako, from Denmark and Dan-Vlad Cobasneanu, from Romania, joined our Bottlenose Dolphin Project in Croatia from 29th June to 10th July. Here's what they had to say about their time in Lošinj
We came back from the volunteering project in Veli Losinj, Croatia, and we wanted to say a big THANK YOU.
It was an amazing experience, starting from location and the most important – people we met. Tihana, Marko, Karlo, Matic, Sandra are simply fantastic. We enjoyed every moment of our stay and would definitely recommend it to others. The house, the office, the boat, sightings, dinner, Saturn (local bar where we were hanging out every evening) and everything else was absolutely fantastic, we already miss that place.
"Our gathered data may add a little piece of the puzzle to a greater understanding for these amazing animals"
Read what one of our volunteers, Jens Ruggaber from Germany thought about their volunteering program in Lošinj and North Dalmatia
There you are, after a long journey, on this Northern Croatian island arriving at the picturesque harbour town of Veli Losinj, being picked up by delightful team members of the project. They, of course, are not your personal tour guides for a leisurely all-inclusive vacation, but part of the scientific staff taking care of about everything from research, general maintenance etc. to supervising volunteers and interns during their time with the project.
Some highlights were the educational introduction into the project (especially on fieldwork and collecting & evaluating data), memorable terrace-talks at the station after sundown, and most of all being out on the water (weather permitting) surrounded by beautiful natural scenery in search of dolphins. It’s a small team and as a volunteer you have set tasks and also contribute to keep the whole project running.
What I realised during our survey is, despite the available amount of information, how much we still do not know about dolphins. Yet our gathered data may add a little piece of the puzzle to a greater understanding for these amazing animals. I hope, with the effort of everyone involved, that this will soon lead to a reactivation and even extension of the marine protection area in the Croatian Adriatic.
"My experience as a volunteer has been a remarkable one"
Bonnie O'Reilly writes about her experience
I volunteered for this project in Croatia & it was the most incredible thing I have experienced. I have been travelling around the world for the past 4 years & this has certainly stood out in my memories. I have always had a huge passion for dolphins & it was always my dream to work with them & help in any way to protect them from a destructive human race. When I discovered the Project in Veli Losinj, Croatia, I sent an email from my home in Australia asking if they needed volunteers. My dream came true when they accepted my position as one of the 5 volunteers, with only one position left available. Within a couple of weeks, I flew from Australia & made my way to the beautiful little harbour of Veli Losinj where I was met by one of the project workers who took me to a gorgeous little house in which I resided for the next fifteen days, along with the other volunteers.
From friends to family we worked together along with our incredible hosts Alena & Grgur to help collect information about the dolphins in the area. We set out on the crystal clear Mediterranean waters almost every day in search of the dolphins on a small little boat where we gathered information to later take back to the Research Centre. We became lucky every time in our search & could barely contain our excitement just from the sighting of these remarkable creatures, while we worked together as a team to collect information such as the number of dolphins spotted & the geographical positioning of them. Photographs were taken to help identify each one & we also performed acoustic monitoring.
On a sad day, when it was too windy to hit the sea to find our flippery friends, we would spend our time in The Research Centre accumulating the information previously collected. We were given the difficult task of identifying the dolphins by matching photographs of their dorsal fins which would hopefully give us a precise number, & name of each dolphin.
I became aware that the Losinj Marine Centre was a very educational place for visitors who would enjoy interactive activities & learn from the vast amount of information displayed.
For me, with or without the dolphins, it was our group of volunteers that really made for a memorable experience. We all got along so well & shared each evening in the house taking turns cooking the meals, sharing laughs & stories while also enjoying a few (or more!) beverages. One night we were lucky enough to enjoy a ´house party´which was the night we invented the Dolphin Dance! Little did we know that we may have created some kind of magic with our dance as the following day turned out to be possibly the most incredible day of my life!!
With more than a sore head from our all night house party, we were unexpectedly woken in the morning by Grgur who abruptly entered our room whooping ´Dolphins!!´. The weather had promised an optimistic day so we leapt out of bed as fast as we could to board our little boat to sea. It was a very stunning day on the 8th of August 2009 & was only about to become more stunning, as we headed to the waters near the small island of Trstenik. With gasps of disbelief we were soon given the most SPECTACULAR display by a pod of 58 dolphins!!! This was the most amount of dolphins ever recorded in the area & we soon became known as the ´Wow´group because this was all we could say as we watched the dolphins leap into the air all around us. This was a show you could never pay money to see at a marine park, this was a show of the happiest dolphins in their element – the wild. In every direction we looked there would be an airborne dolphin, some leaping at up to 5 metres above the water. There were also mothers & their calves who swam very close to our boat which was unobtrusive to them. Jumping, leaping, even synchronised flying dolphins – Wow Wow Wow is the only way I could describe this day. We spent about 8 hours on the waters that day until we waved our friends goodbye into the sunset. I think we all forgot about our hangovers very quickly until we returned to the house, & reminisced on a perfect day. What a day! Could it be possible to break that record the following day with a pod of 60 dolphins sighted? This leaves me speechless.
My experience as a volunteer has been a remarkable one. I left my home in Australia with a little uncertainty of my life due to personal matters but after this experience I was given hope to follow my dreams & was also given hope for the dolphins & all creatures of the ´Big Blue´ because we CAN all live in harmony if we care a little. Before I left my home in Veli Losinj I adopted a male dolphin named Monk which I hope has helped in the research of his precious life & I encourage all who are capable, to help look after our world, in any big or small way, which we share with many species, some of which are endangered. You can make a difference!
Personally I would like to thank Alena, Grgur, Annika, Leopold, Robert, Nicole, Armin, Nikolina, Andrea & all of the dolphins for, without even realising, helping me get through a difficult time. You helped me find a good reason to come back up.