27 July 2010
Dolphins of Greece 10 (16-23 July)
My expectations for this project were high, but it has exceeded them by miles! While I thought we would be allowed to help with the research, I never believed I would be as involved as we have been in data collection. The absense of an assistant meant that we, the volunteers, were needed to perform the tasks normally done by them. This enabled me to feel that I was truly contributing to the research that will hopefully help to save these beautiful animals. The atmosphere was much more relaxed than I had expected. I felt that we (Team X) and Marina developed a great rhythm, both in data collection and everyday life. It made every moment fun! We were also so lucky to have six sightings of dolphins in six days. The first day in Kalamos (day 6) brought us face to face with a group of about 30 striped dolphins, a species which is not normally found there. They approached the boat, surfacing a foot from the side and swimming along under the front. I do not have the words to describe our encounter, but it was one of the best moments of my life. Now I understand more about the threats to the aquatic ecosystems I am more desparate than ever to do whatever I can to help. This project has shown me that a career in marine research is the only one for me! Thank you to Marina, Tatiana, Karen and Tim for making this so special. I do not believe it would have been the same without you and I will never forget this week.
One day before leaving now, just this morning, one of my team mates asked me if this Earthwatch expedition to Vonitsa, Greece, had lived up to my expectations... Without any doubt I replied to him, that it had in fact far exceeded the expectations. The unique experiences that we lived during these seven days will remain forever in my mind. The sense of collaboration of this team, four strangers coming from different parts of the world and effective led by Marina Costa, our team leader, allowed us to effectively participate in the understanding of this research and the nature of the dolphins, the hands-on collection of data, and the excitement of being in contact with this beautiful environemnt. We were lucky enough as to be able to see dolphins all these six days. I am already thinking about the ways I will share my experience with my colleagues and students. I am looking forward to my next expedition. Thank you, Marina, Fran, Karen and Tim for your presence in this place here and now. It has been a pleasure meeting you all.
First of all I have to say how privileged I was to be involved in this project. Even though we were only involved in the research process for six days, the lessons I have learned in Vonitsa will stay with me forever. I too enjoyed being fully immersed in the research during the time we were here. From the different species of dolphins we encountered to the different transits we traveled to try and find the dolphins. Every day was a new adventure. Thank you to Marina, our fearless leader, for providing just the right balance between work and play. You definitely provided us with opportunities to laugh as well as providing us with insight into your work with cetaceans all over the world. Thank you also to Tatiana, Fran and Tim for all the memories. We really made a great team. I consider this expedition to be the start of a lifelong process of continuing to learn and educate others about the beautiful animals that live in the ocean and the things that we can do to make sure that they are there for future generations to enjoy.