12 June 2009
Dolphins of Greece, 1-9 June 2009
I’m not much of a writer but after being here for almost three weeks I feel like I have so much to say. The problem is to gather the words to say how I feel. It has been so amazing the whole experience… it has just been out of this world for me. I have learned so much from my two groups but especially from Joan and Christina. Joan has a talent like I have never seen before. The way he spots the dolphins, tracks them and monitors their every movement (with the help of his excellent volunteers). Christina is always eager to learn. During her spare time she even likes to write every one's recipes down so she can experiment herself. I wish I were staying for another three weeks so I could keep having new experiences with the dolphins, with the new groups and with Christina and Joan. I would like to know more about overfishing and how it is affecting these amazing creatures in our ocean although Joan did an excellent job of explaining. Even after just the first week I felt like going outside and screaming my lungs out at all those fishermen who are destroying the marine life and natural habitats with their intrusive fishing gears and to all the greedy ones who just will not stop until everything is gone... It is very nice here in the Gulf of Amvrakikos. We saw dolphins every day except one. But that could soon change; on our last day we went to Kalamos and we did not see one dolphin. There the water is crystal clear compared with Amvrakikos but their decline there was due to over fishing and Tethys researchers actually witnessed it. It is really sad to see such an amazing animal disappear as if it was never there… Luckly bottom trawlers and purse seiners are not allowed in the Gulf of Amvrakikos or who knows what the situation would be... I’m glad I could help out on this course and will definitely be interested in doing another course like this one in the future. When I’ll get home I am going to spread the word about pollution, overfishing and the effects they have on our ecosystems. I would like to thank Joan and Christina for this wonderful and amazing experience that has really opened my eyes to a lot of things.
I booked this expedition way back in November 2008. As the date got closer, I got more nervous as I had no idea what to expect... what kind of people would I be living with for over a week, would I see any dolphins and would I mess up any of the data that would be collected for the research? I am glad to say that I was put in a varied group of people from different backgrounds and with different experiences. I think it is fair to say that we all got on and will have fond memories and stories to share with friends and family back home (however, though we all respected each other, I would have preferred more privacy in the living quarters but that’s the prude and ‘Sloanie’ in me) but it does not compare to (or take away) the exhilirating feeling of being in Joan’s Zodiac at quite high speed looking, finding and observing the dolphins. That is, by far, the best part of the expedition and I don’t think there is anything in my life that could ruin those moments. Plus, I think I did OK with the science bit. The next challenge for me is how to apply what I have learnt from this trip into my day-to-day living when I return to reality. Finally, I have a lot of respect for Joan with his dedication to his work. It can’t be easy for him to have all these strangers turning up almost week-by-week but I think it is fair to say that those who have chosen to participate on this trip value the underlying reason for his work.
This was my first experience of an Earthwatch project and my first experience of doing anything like this. I wasn’t sure what would be expected of me, or how capable I would be of performing the required tasks. I’m pleased to say that Joan and Christina were very thorough and patient in their instruction and I soon felt like I was providing useful work for the project. It was sometimes difficult to remain focused in the boat, due to the beauty of the animals we were observing and Joan had to bring me back to earth with comments such as: “Exactly where is WOW” and “Over There! We will dump someone Over There!” After the initial culture shock for some of us at the sleeping arrangements, the accommodation proved comfortable and we soon fell into a (mainly) harmonious existence. The communal cooking and meals were fun and it was also enjoyable to visit some of the local restaurants. I was constantly impressed by the commitment and professionalism of all those that work on this project, full or long term, I’m not sure I could handle it.
Jeff, U.K. (Greek resident)