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Italy - Dolphin and Marine Research
GoEco volunteers GoEco volunteers

Italy - Dolphin and Marine Research

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

Italy dolphin and marine research- GoEco

The project in Ischia island Italy was the most incredible week of my life. Spent aboard the Jean Gab sailing boat, we went out to sea sailing through the Kingdom of Neptune in the Mediterranean where we tracked the clicks of dolphins and whales by using hydrophone acoustic equipment submerged in the water and watched the waves for signs of blows of water, splashes and fins. While looking for cetacean life we also collected data of all sightings of the pelagic birds- Shearwater's- as the populations of many oceanic birds are falling. I learnt to recognise the different types of Shearwater and navigation by using the different islands to work out the directions the birds were flying. On arrival I met the team of volunteers; an unbelievable group of people from Switzerland, the Netherlands, America, Turkey and Italy and am very grateful to have met so many amazing people who taught me new skills like Turkish dance, cooking and Dutch politics!
My favourite memory was seeing a large group of stripe dolphins surround the boat on our first day and getting to see so many cetaceans interacting together at once, with some even showing us individual personalities! Alongside this, the atmosphere on the boat was always peaceful but social all day as we chatted and did yoga on the front of the boat during the day then in the evenings when we were docked in the harbour we had the opportunity to go to the town square with small shops, stalls and bars, visit the beach which was only a 5 minute walk away or help cook dinner while listening to music and dancing!
As someone who had only turned 18 less than 2 weeks before going onto the boat and who had never travelled alone before this trip, I highly recommend this to anyone leaving school and unsure of what to do in their summer. Although nervous before I went, I immediately felt comfortable on board and came home a much more independent person. Thank you to everyone who made this experience so special!

Overall Rating

10/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    10

  • Program Administration

    10

  • Living Situation

    10

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    10

A new adventure everyday

Long story short: it was life-changing. The experience I had during the two weeks I spent on the boat was unforgettable. I met amazing people, the crew was so nice and welcoming. I learnt a lot about dolphins, whales, birds, sailing, cooking… Everyday was a new adventure filled with beautiful dolphins, amazing food, great company and breathtaking views. I’ve always been interested in marine biology and wildlife, but this trip really proved to me that I’m definitely passionate about it. Nothing compares to sighting over eighty dolphins and spending two to three hours photographing their beauty, observing their habits, recording their acoustical data and filming them underwater. Whenever there was a sighting, everyone on board had a special task to do, whether it was sailing the boat, filming, photographing, recording sounds or just simply observing.
This project really immerses you into the Italian lifestyle, which is truly amazing because it’s something new and exciting that you get to experience and enjoy. Even if the waves were too high and we wouldn't sail out that day, there was still plenty of stuff to do! You could either take the day off and go explore the island, stay on the boat to work on analyzing data/pictures or even take a day-trip to a neighbouring island! We would do sunset yoga every night, eat gelato on the island, go to the thermal baths, go on adventures up the mountain to get groceries, drink wine and espresso all day, eat amazing homemade dinners, and so much more spontaneous little things on the island that made the trip even more worthwhile!
I became very close with all the people on board and it was very difficult to leave, but I am definitely planning on coming back in the future as well as staying in touch with all the phenomenal people I met on the boat. Words cannot describe how unique of an experience it was, I highly recommend it for anyone who's looking to do something new, different and fun.

Overall Rating

9/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    9

  • Program Administration

    9

  • Living Situation

    8

  • Community Engagement

    10

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    9

Just what I was looking for

I recently returned from a trip abroad where I spent a fantastic week with an international group of researchers and volunteers living aboard a beautiful, historic sailboat on the island of Ischia. The research project studies cetaceans living in the Tyrrhenian Sea off Naples, Italy. Prior to booking this trip, I had spent a long time researching volunteer projects and found there were a lot of shady organizations out there willing to take people's money and time, and others that were essentially expensive vacations with a sampling of research work. With the Ischia Dolphin Project, I found just the right combination of science, adventure, education, and camaraderie.

I booked my trip through GoEco, which was extremely helpful with information, insurance, and general preparedness. And the trip itself, was a winner. Because we were fewer then a dozen people on board, it was important that we all got along - and that indeed was the case. We all became great friends from across the globe. Our captain, and researchers were locals who not only educated us in the ways of the sea, but were terrific storytellers and excellent cooks! We ate local food, drank local wine, enjoyed the company of friends from the island. We learned about the different dolphins living in the local waters, we learned about the behavior of the whales, and we counted shearwater birds for a sister organization. There was always something to do - whether it was standing watch on the foredeck, helping prepare a meal, or if you needed, catching a snooze in the sun.

Our trip was beset by some bad weather which prohibited us from sailing every day, but not from having fun or learning more about the amazing animals we were all there to see. Every day was an adventure and full of laughs. Although we went nearly the entire week without a sighting, we heard plenty of dolphin whistles and whale clicks from the hydrophones and finally on the last day, we were rewarded with a treasure trove of striped dolphins. They swam and jumped all around the ship for over an hour.

Finally, I cannot say enough about our hosts - our captain and two researchers - who always found ways to educate us and to teach us about life on Ischia. We had plenty of free time to explore the town but everyone was pretty intent of staying together and just enjoying time on the boat. The Jean Gab is just beautiful. She's an older boat, but gave us all we needed. Sleeping quarters were a little tight, but several volunteers slept on deck and everyone was attentive to the needs of others so there was never a problem. The bathroom in the harbor was also just a few steps from the boat and although the plumbing was sometimes a challenge, it was easy to adapt and it usually provided some good laughs.

If you're looking for a little adventure and a taste of Ischia-life, if you don't mind living in close quarters with others and pitching in wherever needed, this project is for you.

Overall Rating

8/ 10

  • Volunteer Placement

    6

  • Program Administration

    6

  • Living Situation

    7

  • Community Engagement

    7

  • Health & Safety

    10

  • Day to Day Life

    7

conservation in the Mediterranean

This was a once in a lifetime chance to contribute to dolphin conservation in one of the most stunning spots in the world. Ischia Island is a beautiful paradise, and being able to contribute to cetaean conservation while also surrounded by constant beauty was a true gift. Go Eco was immensely helpful in helping me book my trip and I would definitely book through them again. The people onboard the boat were warm and welcoming and they made my experience quite pleasurable. My only complaint is that I would have liked more hands on aspects to the actual research being done. That being said this project may not be the best bet for a science major looking for research experience but it would be great for anyone who wants to contribute to cetacean conservation while also having a relaxing vacation.