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Ischia, often called the “Green Island” because of its lush flora and fauna, is in the Gulf of Naples and is a volcanic island. The island’s 46 square kilometers are home to about 60,000 people. Many tourists flock to Ischia to enjoy the therapeutic healing offered by the abundant, natural thermal springs and thermal mud. The region is a feeding and breeding ground for fin whales, striped dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and sperm whales and it is also considered a critical habitat for the endangered Mediterranean common dolphins.
The primary focus of the project is to collect data which can create an accurate picture of the cetaceans’ life, including population sizes, social structures of the populations, habitat use and distribution and the acoustic repertoire of the animals. The project also evaluates the impact of the operations of local fisheries and vessel traffic upon the ecosystem. Besides its scientific goals, the project promotes education and awareness activities for the public, publishes its results to the scientific community and aims to improve the conservation efforts in the area.
Volunteers will be involved in every aspect of this project and will work closely with the captain and crew. This is a very serious research project. Participants should be prepared to learn about the research methods used by the team and assist with data collection, as well as sailing the boat and helping with cooking and cleaning duties.
Weather permitting, volunteers will be out at sea every day and will work in one hour shifts to spot dolphins and whales and sea turtles, manta rays, swordfish, tunas, large schools of fish and sea birds. Once there is a sighting, everyone on the boat will have a job to do. This will include:
Sightings can last for several hours, but once the animals leave, the work is not completed. All the data collected has to be entered into the navigation computer and stored on hard disks. During the evenings, volunteers will watch what they filmed that day or films from the archives.
If weather prevents the boat from sailing, volunteers may assist with data entry and analysis, attend lectures given by the research team or explore on the island.
Please note: Activities take place in the wild and that the animals’ behavior is unpredictable, therefore cetaceans sightings are not always guaranteed. Volunteers’ involvement in data collection may vary depending on the nature of the sightings (i.e. brief encounters or evasive animals).
Internet: Internet cafes can be found on the island.
Laundry: Laundromats can be found on the island.
Accommodations: Volunteers will stay aboard a 17.7 meter oceanic oak cutter which was built in 1930 by a famous French architect. Volunteers have the option of 3 single bunks and 2 double bunks, as well as a changing room. Separate bathrooms (cold water only) for men and women. There are also bathrooms and hot showers at the port free of charge. Private rooms are available upon request in a nearby hotel for an extra fee (subject to availability).
Food: Onboard, volunteers and staff are expected to help with daily chores, including shopping, washing dishes, and general boat keep. Exceptions are for the skipper, who will only cook, and for the first researcher, who will not be able to take evening work shifts, as she must review and check the data collected during the day.
Volunteers can choose to have one day off per week, which can be used to relax on the sandy beaches, see the sights of the island, or indulge at one of the natural thermal pools.
Some popular activities include: