08 August 2010
Ionian Dolphins 11 (1-7 August)
My two weeks with the Ionian Dolphins project feel like a dream. Everything about the beautiful town of Galaxidi is calming and inviting. I was surprised how quickly I felt at home here even though everything about Greece is so completely foreign to me. It is truly an ideal destination that is untainted by mass tourism and the aesthetic defects of modern architecture. Once I thought that I had taken in all the beauty of the town, I was wisked away by Philippa, Silvia, and Stefano to the open sea surrounded by hazy mountains that once belonged to Greek gods and goddesses of legend. It makes sense that this divine place could be home to the most unreal creatures I have ever encountered. I am so lucky to have been able to see dolphins swimming, jumping, playing in the wild all while doing research that is meant to ensure this same freedom for their future. Every time that we saw dolphins I was enchanted and I hope that same feeling stays alive in other volunteers and observers of these amazing creatures. We must all do our part in ensuring that no generation will be deprived of the joy that a dolphin sighting brings. I want to thank Giovanni, Silvia, Philippa, and Stefano for an unforgettable and moving experience. You have taught me about the importance and urgency of marine issues not only in Europe, but across the globe. I will forever reevaluate my actions and their effects on all of earths ecosystems in hopes of minimizing my personal impact. I read the following quote years ago and feel like it encapsulates the theme of my experience:
"All know that the drop merges with the ocean but few know that the ocean merges with the drop"
This is a journal entry that I wrote my third day in Galaxidi... This trip has already been so clarifying and encouraging. When I told the head scientist, Giovanni, that I was a communications major because I was horrible at science but still wanted to help animals as my life work, he said “oh thank God, we need more communicators on our side, less scientists”. Hearing that from such a knowledgeable, experienced source was unbelievably encouraging, and for the first time made me feel confident that I am taking the path I need to be taking in order to fulfill my dreams. It is so inspiring to be surrounded by such intelligent, kind, experienced, knowledgeable, dedicated people as Silvia and Giovanni. They are so passionate about making a difference and work so hard at what they do. I am humbled and moved by their dedication and hard work. They are also some of the most inviting and welcoming people I have ever met. If only there were more people like them. And the dolphins, oh the dolphins. I cant even explain what it’s like to be in the middle of the sea surrounded by these majestic, playful, beautiful, ethereal creatures. How could nature have created such beauty. It’s the most perfect moment- surrounded by the huge, magical mountains, in the bluest, calmest, clearest water I have ever seen, with dolphins jumping and playing. How did I get so lucky?
Side note- I would like to express my gratitude to all the people working on this project for their kindness and for opening my eyes and teaching me so much. I was interested in every word you all said, and every lesson you had to teach. I only wish I could learn more from your ever-knowing minds. Your hospitality, kindness and patience was so appreciated. What your doing here is so profoundly important to the difficult task of saving this planet and I cannot tell you how deeply I respect you. Thank you.
As a zoology major, my dream is to work with animals. Being here in Greece, riding along side multiple dolphins brought my dream to reality. There is nothing better than cruising on the boat early in the morning with the sun rising over the exquisite horizon, knowing there are unlimited possibilities to observe marine wildlife in their natural surroundings. I had such an amazing time being part of a monumental cause to ensure dolphin habitats and populations are being conserved and that we are doing all we can to not only save our animals, but save our own home as well. This project made me think about my life and I am taking so much away to apply to my own life and to pass on to others! As an educator, I know this will be nothing but beneficial to myself, my students, my friends and my family.