With a turn of key the engine cuts out and we are adrift. After hours with the steady rumble of the trusty Selva 100, we all welcome the quiet. Finally the glassy complexion of the sea is matched by the erie silence in the air. The only disturbance now is the fierce sun beating down on our shoulders.
A few minutes pass and we glance around, bodies still tense from hours of survey followed by concentration on the various tasks of data collection. Just as our anticipation peaks, it comes; the powerful jet of air signaling the exhale of a dolphin nearby. Within seconds several more full exhalations breach the quiet and though unaware we each mimic the action. A long deep exhale allowing our tension to fade. Simultaneously smiles break across our faces as easily as the dolphins broached the quiet water.
Moments of peace like these were welcomed during the six weeks I spent with the Ionian Dolphin Project in Episkopi. The days were busy, filled with the training of new volunteers from various European countries who would then head to the sea with us every morning to assist with research. The team here also found time to inform the volunteers of the tough situation in the area surrounding Kalamos Island. It is a grim life for these charismatic creatures and the beautiful environment they inhabit.
But for me, to see such a dedicated people working for change brings admiration and the desire to help. To know that this team of researchers, little by little, are helping to spread this knowledge throughout the world brings hope for the future. Thank you to all the people who made this such a unique and amazing experience!!
Photo: Kelsea at the IDP field station, showing the dorsal fins used for training purposes (to learn how to record dolphin surfacing intervals).