30 May 2010
Dolphins of Greece 4 (21-28 May)
What a great experience! I had never been in Greece before or on an Earthwatch expedition. Really would recommend it to anyone. I sure hope that the dolphins will be here in 10 years, and will do what I can to encourage marine conservation. I liked the small group we had of 3 volunteers and two research staff. I liked being involved in so many aspects of the research effort and the research staff really made me feel like I was contributing to the overall picture. I had trouble determining distance especially in meters, but it worked out. This experience with Earthwatch was excellent. Hope to do more expeditions in the future. Would love to take a niece or nephew on a trip. I encouraged some co-workers to try something like this so I hope that they will and that they will spread the word to conserve our wonderful marine environment.
I think our team was most fortunate in having lovely May weather - cool in the mornings and evenings and warm at mid day. We did not have a single day without dolphins and saw almost every behaviour. It was not until our last day that I actually saw the white belly of a dolphin during surface feeding behaviour, which we were able to observe from just five meters. We spotted two Dalmatian pelicans during our runs and were able to observe one for quite a while, flying just above the surface of the water. The time with the dolphins was most precious but I really enjoyed learning to crop and match the photographs too. Joan was very generous with his time in making sure we understood all aspects of the research. He is not only a dedicated scientist and excellent teacher but a great cook! Iva was very instrumental in being sure we understood everything and were comfortable during our stay. I was especially pleased to learn that this Earthwatch project has an active outreach component, working with local people and especially school children. I look forward to sharing the materials developed for children with my Canadian grandchildren. I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about marine conservation but I really have a new fund of knowledge to share about what we as consumers and citizens need to do to save the seas and our wonderful aquatic friends. Marcia and I have survived 5 previous Earthwatch trips together but having Dolly as our coworker made this trip a delight. Thanks to all of you for a wonderful experience. Yes, even Posy was a good companion.
I have immensely enjoyed each of the Earthwatch projects I’ve been part of and Dolphins of Greece is no exception… might even now head the list as favourite. Have learned so much more than I expected thanks to our knowledgeable, amusing (and sometimes smart aleck?) PI, Joan (and trusty sidekick, Iva). I fear I will never feel the same about eating fish again, which is undoubtedly a good thing, and I suspect some friends at home may become a bit tired of my passing along what I’ve learned. Best of all, of course, were the dolphins themselves, how kind of them to gather a large contingent to come greet us our first morning on the gulf—what a show! And then to provide another astonishing performance on our last day seemed a marvelous bonus. In between, they let us be with them, showed us something different each day and gave us practice in dealing with that lovely netpad (our hand-held computer), and remembering to be LOUD when hollering out that a dolphin was out at 4 o'clock and 30 meters, or was that 80 meters, maybe 150? How could anyone spend time with these lovely beings and not want to do whatever little bit she could to help research that might some day help them? The company was excellent and the food was yummy. I, a confirmed cat person, even thought Posi was delightful. The only complaint I could think of about this entire experience is that IT’S TOO DARNED SHORT! I am a bit bereft realizing that there will be no wind-blown ride onto the gulf in the morning, but the memories (and about a bazillion photos—thanks for being patient with me and my camera) will last a very long time. And really, Joan, when I win the lottery, I’ll be back. Be prepared.