Croatia – Bottlenose Dolphin Conservation

Join us in a Tuscany-resembling, seaside village to research bottlenose dolphins! Spend your days sailing in a sparkling sea and observing bottlenose dolphins up-close.


Program Highlights:

  • Spend your days out at sea, sailing in the beautiful North-Eastern Adriatic Sea
  • Be directly involved in dolphin conservation through professional data collection and analysis
  • Work with the only organization in the region conducting dolphin research
  • At least one complimentary excursion will be provided during your placement
  • Experience the Tuscany-resembling seaside village of Umag


Your Schedule at a Glance (Minimum eleven-day commitment):

Arrival Day, Monday: Arrive into one of three airport options, and take a bus to Umag. The local team will be waiting to pick you up from the bus station and transfer you to your accommodations there.

Days 1-10, Tuesday-Wednesday: You will volunteer about 4-6 hours a day, 8 days out of 11. Your days will begin at 9:00 AM with a briefing of daily tasks during breakfast. After, you will analyze data from the field work and potentially enter data into the main catalogue. Depending on the weather and as per the daily schedule, you will depart for field research and spend the rest of the day gaining valuable hands-on experience with dolphins, out at sea. On a really good day, you could be out there until 9:00 PM. (depending on the encounter success) and will thereafter return to the research base. In the evening, you will help cook a light dinner with the team, followed by the opportunity to engage in social activities or relax. Please note that you will not volunteer on the first and last day of your placement or on the day of the excursion. Sunday is a free day.

Day 11, Thursday: Departure day for volunteers staying only eleven days.

Please note: Going out to sea for research is dependent on the weather conditions. If the weather is not favorable or the sea is above 3Bf, there will be on-land activities arranged instead.


Location icon Location of the Project: Zambratija near Umag

Project length Project length: Min. 11 days with option to extend

Arrival Airport Arrival Airport: Pula Airport (PUY) – Croatia OR Trieste Airport – Italy

Volunteer Work Volunteer Work:  Dolphin conservation and research

Age Age:  18 – 35

Number of Volunteers Number of Volunteers: Up to 6 international volunteers

Important Note Important Note: Families with one child (min age 12) may be accepted, but there are no upgraded accommodations available.


What’s Included

Accommodations Accommodations: Shared room in the research base apartment

Food Food: Three meals per day.

Airport Transfers Airport Transfers:  Volunteers will make their own way, via public transport, to the Umag bus station on arrival day, where they will be picked up.

Orientation Orientation: At least one complimentary volunteer excursion will be provided during your volunteer placement

Support Support: Comprehensive and professional pre-departure travel guidance, 24/7 GoEco emergency hotline, experienced local field team.


What’s not Included

Flights, visas (if required), travel health insurance, groceries for dinners (approx. 3 EUR per day), transport to the Umag bus station on departure day, entrance fee for optional excursion to Brijuni National Park (22EUR to 28EUR), personal expenses

Zambratija is a small seaside village in Croatia, located on the northern coast of the Istrian peninsula, just north of the Adriatic Sea. In March 2013, just 400m off the coast, diver’s discovered an ancient boat wreck dating back to 1200BC. Zambratija is laden with extensive olive groves that overlook beautiful views of the sea and has often been compared to the Italian region of Tuscany. A short bike ride along the coast, allows panoramic views of Slovenia, as well as Italy, with the Alps providing a stunning backdrop.


Your work is important in helping to protect the dolphin population living in this sensitive marine ecosystem. During the first few days, you will attend morning lectures on topics such as the NGO efforts in protecting marine mammals and marine ecology. Throughout your placement, you will learn how to read and understand research data and actively help with dolphin conservation.

Some of your tasks may include:

  • Collecting data
  • Entering data directly into a database
  • Learning how to distinguish between dolphin species
  • Helping in outreach for the establishment of the Dolphin Education Center

Internet icon Internet: WiFi is available for free at the research base until 10:00 PM each night.

Laundry icon Laundry: A washing machine is available for 7 EUR per wash.

Accommodations icon Accommodations: You will stay in an apartment with other volunteers. There are only two shared rooms available, with one to three volunteers per room. Larger rooms may be shared with up to 3 other volunteers. Both rooms have a beautiful view over the sea and an open access to the terrace. Each room is equipped with bunk beds and a sofa-chair. There is also an air conditioner with cooling and heating capabilities in the apartment along with a western-style bathroom. The apartment’s entrance extends to a spacious terrace overlooking the surrounding area, which is a great place to hang out. In addition, there is a common room with a TV and computers for your use and enjoyment.

Food icon Food: Two meals a day are included (mostly vegetarian). Dinners are self-catering. There will also be one night of grilling (a dinner party), and regular visits to a nearby supermarket to purchase snacks and other items for individual needs.


Please take note of this project’s minimum requirements:

  • Minimum age of 18
  • Must be a swimmer
  • Language: basic English, German, Slovenian or Croatian
  • Enthusiastic and a team player

There will be at least one organized excursion during your project placement. Before or after volunteering you may have the chance to visit Brijuni National Park or Kamenjak National Park. There may also be an opportunity to visit one of these famous touristic towns: Poreč, Pula, Rovinj or Motovun (a typical Istrian village that resembles villages in Tuscany). In addition, there will be an organized walk under the stars on one night during your stay.

Lucky for you, Funtana is situated in an ideal geographical location as it only a few hours’ drive from most of the major European capitals. You can visit Venice, Dubrovnik (another Adriatic pearl town), Ljubljana (Slovenian capital) and Postojna cave (third biggest cave in the world). If you are interested in these particular adventures, you can ask your project coordinators upon arrival.

You are also free to organize your own activities, such as morning exercises on the terrace or running on the beautiful pathways next to the sea. There may also be a bike or two available for your use (depending on availability).

Volunteer Experiences

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