Wildlife conservation and community volunteer projects and internships worldwide

Dolphin & Whale Volunteer Research Project, Italy

1 - 4 weeks from

16 + for individuals - families 10+
minimum age

  • Research the spectacularly large fin and sperm whales in the Mediterranean
  • Live on a 70 ft sailing boat and spend your days out at sea researching cetaceans
  • Work alongside marine biologists who are passionate about whales and dolphins
  • Experience dolphins bow riding and playing with the waves as you cruise by

Underwater shot of pilot whale in Italy

About the Dolphin & Whale Project

Since 1990 this project has been investigating the ecology and behaviour of cetaceans living in the Cetacean Sanctuary – a special marine protected area extending between Italy and France. The research focuses on the spectacularly large fin whale as well as on sperm whales, Risso’s dolphins, pilot whales, striped and bottlenose dolphins.

The Project
Cetacean volunteer researchers will be directly involved in field activities, helping the scientists to collect cetacean data and assist them in preliminary analyses of digital photos and acoustic recordings, while learning basics in sailing.

You will be trained through specific lectures and work side by side with researchers. During this period you will be asked to contribute to the data collection and analysis (e.g. recording cetaceans number and behaviour at regular intervals, preliminary analysis of cetaceans digital photos, etc).

Volunteers watching a fin whale in ItalySample day
The schedule of a research cruise depends very much on weather conditions. Surveys are conducted whenever the sea state and wind forecasts are favourable for data collection. Cetacean volunteer researchers are full members of the crew, and they will be assigned a number of duties. These include sighting shifts (looking for cetaceans), computer shifts (data entry and hydrophone listening), navigation shifts (checking the boat course and velocity), cooking and boat-keeping shifts (participants as well as staff members will be in charge of preparing meals and cleaning-up, keeping the boat tidy and ready to sail).

Dolphin & Whale Volunteer Research Project, Italy

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