10 August 2008

Dolphins of Greece, 1-9 August

Thank you to Fund For Teachers who paid for our expedition, Earthwatch Institute who connected us with the project and Tethys Research Institute for establishing the research. Thank you to Giovanni, Joan and Suzanna for welcoming us into your home and teaching us so much about teamwork, scientific method and conservation. I can’t wait to teach what I have learned to my students and colleagues. We will keep in touch and share any materials we create (curriculum, videos, student-created products and presentations) as a result of this experience.

On a personal level, I think you are very special people and I feel very fortunate to have met you. I will never forgot you and you will always hold a special place in my heart.

With sincere appreciation,

Amy, USA (Maine)


I think it is fair to say that we have been a most compatible group of volunteers. It has made for not only the most awe inspiring encounter of a wild species of animal but also contributed to a fun, relaxing, rigorous, demanding at times, and hugely entertaining experience. We have shared the most memorable adventure. From dolphin sightings, and feeling a part of a larger piece of the universe, to the conversations about culture, science, conservation, global stewardship, preserving life as we know it, social attitudes, and just life.

I believe that all people should travel abroad because it makes people more humble, less self important, and more compassionate for others, and now after this experience with this very passionate, knowledgeable, team of cetacean scientists I also believe that people should have the experience of observing a wild species because it allows one to see firsthand the connectedness of all life on this planet. What we do to one species will have a ripple effect on others. We cannot play with this delicate balance of nature!

With much gratitude and fondness,

Marcia, USA (Maine)


I have experienced and seen so much in my life that I never thought that anything or anyone could surpass it. Oh how very wrong I was.

My first day in Greece (Vonitsa) was like falling in love all over again. The culture, food and the people’s attitude towards life was an eye opener for me. Being the only Asian, I felt “special”. Joan and his “little grasshopper” (Suzana aka “what are u doing Suzie”) linked up with us and we were guided to Palace Tethys. From day 1 the group “clicked”.

The 2nd day we went out to sea and from that day onwards everything exploded. We saw the record number of dolphins sighted this year and it just improved day in day out. Throughout the expedition we had so many brilliant sightings of dolphins, sea turtles and ate delicious food (like mama makes it back home). We laughed, shared stories about our country and culture, we shared beer, we shared task, we protected each other the way a female dolphin would protect her calf. We were ONE.

From the bottom of my heart I thank the King of the Palace, Giovanni, though injured, never failed to join us for discussions and made himself readily available when we needed him. General Joan, was different. We could not get rid of him. His regimental orders (humorous thou) made me feel at home and it helped me get through being away from my daughter. His constant battle plans (transect) kept me on my toe. His daily lectures opened up a new and priceless chapter in my life. Private Suzie was simply adorable. Whatever I let slip from my hands, she caught it.

My hats off to Giovanni, Joan and Suzie. I have learnt so much these 9 days and I say THANK YOU!!! Your passion towards the conservation of life is beyond words, kudos my friends. To my new found American friends - Marcia, Amy, Sarah and Saagar, remember me as the funny one and not the one that woke you up 9 days in a row. LOVE U GUYS!!!

Jesse, Singapore


The beauty about words is that they give us the ability to communicate an experience to our friends and family so they can share the good times that we have. However, words cannot do justice to the experience that I had here in Vonitsa; it was beyond anything that I could have ever imagined.

These past nine days were more than I could have ever hoped for. From the start to the end, I loved every second of my experience with not only the dolphins, which were beyond spectacular, but also with the staff. I want to go up to Joan, Dr. Bearzi, and Suzanna (little Suzi) and give them all a big hug thanking them for giving me an experience of a lifetime. My heart goes out to you guys for your passion, your drive, and, most importantly, your love for the dolphins. You guys have shown me the value of preserving this amazing cetaceans, and for that, words cannot express how thankful I am.

I want to thank my friends, Marcia, Jesse, Amy, and Sarah. I have been traveling all my life and been part of many groups, but I have to say that you guys are the best group I have ever had, no exaggeration. I have never been with a group that shared so much enthusiasm towards learning not only about the fieldwork that goes in cetacean preservation, but also about the value and caring towards Mother Nature. Thanks for a great nine days that we spent together.

Apart from the great sightings we had at sea, the amazing food that we ate, and even that glorious trip to Lefkada, I cannot think of anything else that could have made the time more amazing. Thank you all for a glorious experience. I wish you nothing but the best!

Saagar, USA (Massachusetts)


I signed up for this expedition with very little expectations. I wanted to travel to a different country, see some dolphins and go on an adventure. I thought my adventure began and ended in Vonitsa, Greece, but I was wrong. My adventure is just beginning. I have learned so much about dophins, sea life, the world and mysef the past nine days and I can’t wait to share everything with my family, friends and students. I am going home with a bigger heart and I owe it all to Amy, Saagar, Marcia, Jesse, Joan, Suzie, Giovanni and of course the dolphins. You made me feel like I was at home even though I was thousands of miles away from Boston. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Sarah, USA (Massachusetts)

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