Once we arrived (my friend Kyle and I) at the Liveaboard Dolphin Research Expedition program in Italy after a full day of travel, we met Captain Angelo, the research assistant, researcher, the skipper, and the other volunteers for that week whom we all bonded with immediately. Luckily on the first day we were able to relax once we unpacked by driving to a nearby spa/pool area where there were thermal pools, a wonderful sauna, and the ocean to swim in. After we swam, we ate an amazing four course dinner filled with fresh fruit, the best seafood I have ever eaten such as prawns and swordfish, curried meats with cheese or olives, a pasta dish, and of course there was plenty of wine and bread too.
The next two weeks were busy yet relaxing. A typical day consists of waking up around 8:00 in the bunk, going to the outdoor bathroom facility to get ready (showering, etc.), then you would do your chore of the day depending on what was needed at the research center. For example, sometimes you would help with vacuuming the cabin, cleaning the bathroom, or cooking. Then, have some toast with the most amazing butter and homemade jam. Then, a cup of coffee (like an espresso shot), which was delicious as well. Everyone then prepared for the navigation once the boat left the dock by moving the fenders, preparing the binoculars and bird count sheets. Then, we would take one hour shifts searching the ocean perimeter for any sort of marine life including seagulls, dolphins or whales. We were lucky and had a multitude of striped dolphin pod sightings, bottlenose sightings, and we had four sperm whale sightings. We even documented a new sperm whale, who swam very close to the boat and we were able to get amazing footage of him! When there are sightings you videotape on the stern with the gopro camera, take pictures using high resolution cameras, and would have the acoustic equipment on to record/locate the communication of the dolphins or whales.
The pasta at lunch was usually made by the captain who is an amazing cook. One day the waves were too high so we were able to dock and snorkel a bit, which was fun. After researching on the boat for most of the day, usually I would go to the beach with other volunteers to swim, then explore the shops of Ischia, and especially get the most amazing dark chocolate gelato. Then, you help prepare for dinner, and eat together on the boat. Dinner is always fun because there is always laughter and a good social atmosphere with everyone together. One day we ate at this pizza place that looked like a wedding venue, but had the most amazing pizza at a cheap price. There’s Wifi near shops next to where the boat is docked as well, which is convenient! Overall, I highly recommend this trip, I have learned so much by immersing myself in the Italian culture via the food, language, and people. As well as the marine research on board, I have made many amazing memories and I miss the beauty of Ischia including the marine-life, people, and surrounding landscape that overlooks the Mediterranean Sea.