09 May 2009
Dolphins of Greece, 1-9 May 2009
A truly great experience...
Amazing PI, asssistant, dolphin sightings, location, food, weather and team. Always seeing and learning something new. Spacious airy, clean living, working, eating, socialising and sleeping accommodaton. Different Greek foods – love the lamb, pies, Greek salad, shrimps and moussaka.
Vonitsa – a delightful small very real Greek town – loved the fishing harbour and fishernen – good restaurants for coffee & dinner.
Dolphins – saw so many frenzied and belly-up feeding, porpoising, diving, swimming, socialising – such magical sightings.
Team mates – Mark on his Blog, Richard – a star on the Netpad, Aina learning fast herself and teaching us – Joan firm but fun leadership, with well-balanced, busy and varied days and of course, Posei his well fed and loved dog. Michael and I participated fully too making our contribution, albeit very small, to this most worthwhile research.
A special mention of our PI, Joan who shows such humanity and integrity, great knowledge and love of dolphins and the local community and all with a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. Keep up this amazing work. Thank you for this experience!
My first experience of Earthwatch was a project in the Bahamas – Dolphins and Whales of Abaco Island which was an excellent start to a future in voluntary conservation ten years ago. Since then I have found that from time to time working in conservation has a moment when things don’t feel as positive as they should. Setbacks occur and it’s time to recharge the battery. This is my 5th project with Earthwatch now and it has been an excellent way of rekindling the enthusiasm for conservation locally. This effect is due to Joan – who through his own dedication and untiring commitment to ‘getting the message across’ is a great example of someone who seems to be able to be undaunted in his positive approach to the education of the community and us as volunteers. So I will go back to the UK with not only wonderful sightings of dolphins in my memory but a refreshed ‘act locally’ hat on, and try to be a better communicator when promoting my own bit of conservation. Thanks Joan and Aina for giving our team so much of your time and help in understanding the bigger picture.
"Sit down, Reshard", "Don’t look out to Sea, Reshard!", "Look out at 12:00 to 3:00, Reshard!" These were just a few of the many directions Joan directed at me as we bounced along in the Gulf in search of the dolphins. This was all before the dolphins were sighted. But, once the dolphins were sighted the words were quickly forgotten and the action came fast and furious. One of us would manned the Netpad, another timed the dives, the others would help spot and count the number of dolphins. We were truly kept busy for the next two or three hours. Our time out on the gulf passed quickly.
Joan was our team leader. He was assisted by Aina. They were very good to work with. They were patient and very informative. I must admit, I needed a little extra help from time to time, especially while using the dreaded Netpad. They both showed great patience at these times. They heard the word oops often! Our volunteers were Michael and Jill from England, Mark from New Hamshire, and myself, Richard from Kent, Washington. We came together because we all shared a common interest in dolphins and the environment. Being here in Vonitsa this past week was one of the High Points of my life. I am sure Jill, Michael, and Mark would agree with that statement. I believe we share a common concern with the condition of our modern world. There are things about this world we would like to change.
After being here for a week I see hope. Being a teacher I will return and share with my students many of the things we did and witnessed. Perhaps in this small way we can make a difference. If asked, "Would you go on this trip again?" my response would (will) be, "You Betcha! I would do it in a second!" And perhaps I will!
Thank you for a truly remarkable experience. We have seen lots of dolphins doing amazing things. I would like to thank Earthwatch and the Kelly family for their generous gift that made this experience possible for myself and my students. I would especially like to thank Joan and Aina for making this such a positive learning experience. This has re-charged my batteries and my students have greatly benefited as well. I wish Joan, Aina and the dolphin project the best of luck and success preserving these amazing animals.