18 May 2009

Dolphins of Greece, 11-19 May 2009

Nine days in the office, or in the field on the Amvrakikos Gulf, Greece? I know which I prefer! As Earthwatch staff, we are here to experience what a project is like from a volunteer’s perspective, and remind ourselves why we do what we do.

Elah, our fellow volunteer, is an avid dolphin lover, with a passion that shines through. Despite our different backgrounds, after the first day at sea, we are all infatuated.

Our first sighting had started following a single dolphin, and ended with a big group. They were socialising, diving and feeding, and demonstrated some amazing aerial displays. They are hungry and feeding on fish that they drive to the surface, and the surrounding seabirds are making the most of the opportunity for an easy dinner.

Each day has given us sightings like this, but the best had to be when we found two newborn dolphins, just a few days old, porpoising alongside their mothers, their foetal creases still visible. We felt so privileged to see them. This goes for the adults too, who have let us into their secret lives – we will all miss Max, Gindra, Koboloi and the rest - whose fin markings we have got to know quite well.

But it is not just dolphin research. To quote Elah, “I’m participating in a program that is actually going toward something useful, with a scientist who knows the answer to any question posed on his subject”. We have also enjoyed the friendliness of the local people, our post-survey cafĂ© freddos, the beautiful surroundings, comfortable house and great food.

All in all, it has been an absolutely fantastic experience!

Emma (Earthwatch Engagement Officer), Debbie (Earthwatch Research Officer), and Elah (dolphin addict).

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