12 June 2010

Ionian Dolphins 3 (6-12 June)

Having read about the experience of other volounteers in the blog before coming to Galaxidi, I had my doubts about the life-changing experience everyone was talking about. Now, I truly understand why they said that. Taking data on the dolphins, attending lectures about overfishing and other manmade problems, and even talking and listening to what other volunteers have to share are an enriching and, no doubt, life-changing experience. The whole course ended so fast that I regreted not signing up for two weeks instead of one, or maybe even three. I would wholeheartedly recommend anyone who is thinking about signing up to the course to sign up right away. The researchers are devoted to making sure we learned more about the world we are living in and not just about dolphins. The surprises of the entire journey are never ending. The passion from the researchers and other volunteers overwhelm you, the severeness of global problems of overfishing and pollution shock you, the solutions to these problems which are so unmistakenly simple and yet not undertaken sadden you. Amidst all of these, Tethys offers some hope. Thank you Silvia and Giovanni!

Khai Lin, Singapore


I couldn’t have hoped for more than I had over this week!! I came here because of a passion for the cetaceans, especially the dolphins but as well because I needed to get myself involved in a real action to help for their conservation, and therefore the ocean’s conservation. Meeting with Giovanni and Silvia, our two reserchers, was as well of great knowledge : you don’t just actually get to speak about dolphins and do research to understand them better and help them in their work, you go to the heart of a real threat: the evolution of our actual society, overconsumption, overfishing, how and what is the impact of the human activity, all of that deeply based on data recorded over years and years of work from Tethys and other Mediterranean Sea associations. You get to the overall view and global understanding of what links what, and what is the impact. In additional you are learning about dolphins, the unforgettable moments spent on the water with them, you get to discover a much larger vision of their world, our world, and how we interact with each other.

Even though you will clearly find out our oceans and therefore ceteceans are clearly endangered, the Tethys team delivers before all a message of hope: we can all change it, we can all reverse the way things are going by just being responsible of ourselves, our actions and understanding our impact on the environment. Therefore what is absolutely fantastic is that you not only get to encounter very closely the dolphins but by understanding Tethys' clear message, you are able at your level to understand what to do to help them, to help the ocean, to help the human race... I recommand this adventure to anyone who wants to get closer to nature, to these beautiful cetaceans, but as well to anyone who is concern by the future of our planete and of course to get the chance to meet with the Tethys Team, entirely passionate and devoted to make sure our future will be better for all of the beings on earth!! Thank you Giovanni and Silvia for your fantastic work and all you are doing to protect our environement, our oceans... and before all, the dolphins!!

Nathalie, France


A Day at Sea – A Memory

We set off early each morning, spending up to five hours on the boat, travelling up and down the wild coastline of the Gulf of Corinth. By mid-June the sea is mostly calm. We cross the Gulf in a small powerboat, up and down the inlets, all the time gazing out to sea. The sky is soft and empty, sometimes a solitary bird passess over us, or a jet will trail vapour in its wake, streaking cloud accross the dome of sky, and then it is gone. Our eyes grow tired with the glare of light, as it catches ripples on the water and blinks back, a thousand flashbulbs of light and colour, of deep Meditteranean acqua, of turquoise and purple like a peacock’s gown. Seeing the dolphins is an unimaginable delight and we are lucky to have seen them in abundance. On the first day, after about an hour at sea they approached the boat, their dorsal fins caught in the distant waves. They moved slowly and in great numbers with the same rocking movement of the sea. The light glinted and sparked on their skin. It is impossible to forget the dolphins playing around the boat, turning somersaults under the water and occasionally above, whistling and blowing, their tailfins slapping the surface. Sometimes we catch them looking up with their beautiful eyes, and then with a sudden flick of the tail, they are gone. There is no sense of time, no thoughts of the outside world at sea. Only the present, the present day with sunlight on the Mediterranean, lost in greens and deep blues, a clear and enless sky with this magnificent animal. Giovanni described the dolphin as a quintissential representation of the sea and everything we love about it. And it is.

I wish that this was the end of the story and that I could leave here with only memories of this great beast of nature. But the story of the dolphin is inextricably linked to the outside and everything we and our lives represent. Last week only two were spotted around Kalamos from a population of 140 in 1995. I leave with mixed feelings, a wonderful time, with the dolphins and with the company of everyone here. My wish is that all this is here, here not only for us but also the next generation, and the one after that. Thank you Giovannni and Silvia for the experience and everything we have learnt.

Amanda, UK


Last day in Galaxidi. No doubt, I was really looking for this kind of experience. What a magic and wonderful week spent in an amazing place! I really experienced how the life of a field researcher is. Wake up early in the morning; go out to sea, aware that you’re not sure to find dolphins and you can have problems to do what you want to do and go where you want to go because of many reasons, like the weather; take as many data as you can, because every single moment is precious; analyse pictures at home on the computers; live together and share feelings and opinions (it was just a little bit a problem for me because of my bad English... sorry girls!). I liked it very much and I learned so many things! Undescribable feelings at the first sighting! ..the same at the second.. and at the third one.. I really love these beautiful animals since I was a child, and having the chance of seeing them in the wild has been great and magic. They embody the spirit of the sea and all its power, but at the same time they are so tender animals. It’s so sad to think that they are disappearing from some places around the world.

Giovanni’s lectures in the afternoons had the power to change my view of life and helped me to become conscious of some of today’s society’s biggest problems. I’ll remember his words. Thank you Silvia and Giovanni for your patience and all we have experienced these days! Thank you for the work you do day by day to protect dolphins and their enviroment, involving people from all around the world. I recommend this kind of experience to all the people who like nature and in particular these amazing animals, and want to support an useful and important organization like Tethys. I’ll keep in my heart for the future all the emotions that I felt these days, expecially during the surveys in the beautiful Gulf of Corinth, exactly in the moment when Silvia said: ‘Look girls, we found them!’ I’ll come back for sure. That’s a promise.

Già è difficile trasmettere in italiano ciò che è possibile vivere qui a Galaxidi in una sola settimana, figuriamoci in un'altra lingua. Ci sarebbe tantissimo da dire, ma quello che posso fare è semplicemente suggerire a tutti di dare un’occhiata di persona! =)

Vale, Italy

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