11 July 2010
Ionian Dolphins 7 (4-10 July 2010)
While waiting to be picked up on my first day of the Tethys program, I didn’t quite know what to expect and I was a bit nervous. But then a bright green van came puttering down the street and two women jumped out to help us load our bags. These two women, Silvia and Panni were there with all of us from the very beginning helping us in every possible way, answering all of our questions and lending a hand whenever we needed. My anxiety quickly melted away as I got comfortable in the house and created amazing friendships with all the other volunteers. Our mornings out at sea will stick with me for the rest of my life. The way the beautiful and playful dolphins glided through the water, jumping gracefully as Silvia snapped pictures. Also, the feeling of being a part of a program that I know one day will make a huge difference in the way people treat the ocean and the wildlife within it. I send all my thanks to Silvia and Panni for making this experience an amazing one and being the wonderful and caring people they are. And lots of love to all of the team, you are a fantastic group of girls and I know that wherever I go in life, I will never forget you and my week spent participating in this program.
As I sit at the typewriter, I am gently rocking inside, not only from the days of sways and swells, but from the passion and spirit that infused our week with Silvia and Panni. Coming with two teenaged girls, this was all an unknown adventure that I hoped would refresh my own eco-energy and open their world a bit. Well, it has done far more than this. Silvia and Panni, and the other wonderful young women in our group have been beautiful, intelligent, inspiring role models for my daughter and niece, and for that I am more than grateful. And for me, words do not really capture the gratitude and admiration I have for the important work you do. I know there are constant hurdles and it must be like constantly running up hill, but you are making a great difference in your part of the world that is reaching around the globe. Plus, the camaraderie, delicious meals and time off swimming, relaxing and even watching the World Cup (yeah Netherlands!) in gorgeous Galaxidi were just icing on the cake. Thank you for the unforgettable energy and experience!
After spending one semester abroad as an exchange student in Spain, I was eager to close my schoolbooks and to ‘work on the field’. In other words, to DO something useful for the environment, to work manually, to work outdoors, to interact with nature and to meet people from all over the world. The Ionian Dolphin Project was my first volunteering experience abroad and definitely opened doors for me to participate in future volunteering projects, for the professionalism and friendliness of Silvia and Panni made my first volunteering experience with Tethys Institute more than enjoyable. I am extremely grateful that this organization allows anyone to volunteer in their projects, since I have no professional experience in dolphin monitoring and conservation, an openness echoing the message that ‘anybody can make a difference in preserving our planet.’ Thank you very much to all of you who participated in the project in Galaxidi, this has been an unforgettable journey and although I was happy to leave my books behind, I am grateful to have learned so many things about dolphins and marine life!
Hmmm... well I have always wanted to come to Greece and as soon as my mom asked if I wanted to go to participate in Tethys I answered with an enthusiastic yes. As the trip approached I grew more and more excited. The Parthenon! Santorini! Oh my gosh! Tethys was just a stop over between bigger, better things. I could not have been more wrong. What I have experienced here has changed the way I view the world. My mom has told me time and again about all the problems and issues in the ocean, but the problems never really hit home before now. Witnessing how spirited and graceful dolphins are just captured my heart. Learning about how humanity is destroying them broke it. I swear I will never eat an unstable fish again and I will do my best to pass on the lessons I learned here to everyone I know. But the dolphins are not the only reason why I loved it here. Panni and Silvia are some of the friendliest, most genuine people I have and ever will meet. There was never a moment when we were not smiling or laughing. Just knowing Panni makes me want to go to Hungary. I know she got upset when we did not always correct her, but honestly, her English is amazing. Most of the time there was nothing to correct. And Silvia’s passion for all sea life is contagious. I absolutely loved learning everything she had to offer. I will miss everything about this place, from the bunk beds to the green van to the long walk to the dock to the ice cream to the dinners. The only thing I will not miss is remembering to throw out my toilet paper to giggling at that one hot Greek god. Thank you for everything. My life and heart will never be the same. I am so fortunate to have been given this opportunity.
I came to Greece in order to gain experience and knowledge on the field of marine research, in a place as far from home as possible. Working with the Tethys team in Galaxidi with Silvia, Panni and Giovanni was a refreshing change and a recharge of my enthusiasm and admiration of cetacean wildlife. I saw everything I came to see including striped and bottlenose dolphins, species I had never seen before. I am still shocked by the size of the dolphins bowriding and displaying aerial acrobatics. I also encountered sea turtles, tuna and birdlife. Unexpectedly, I met wonderful friends from all over the world who share the same passions and concerns as me. Fortunately I was able to stay for two weeks, working with two different teams. Panni took us out and showed us the best of what Galaxidi had to offer in the beautiful setting of the small town. I have learned so much during my stay. A thousand praises and Thank you to the team!
Kate, New Zealand