11 August 2009

Cetacean Sanctuary Research 11, 3-9 August

All of it was so emotive! I never met Risso’s dolphins, sperm whales and Cuvier’s beaked whales and I’m so happy they showed us their beauty. The researchers we’re really helpful and shared their passion on work always, we were at home with everybody, thank you very much. I hope someday we can repeat this wonderful week with you and cetaceans will live free in our loved Mediterranean. See you soon!

Sara, Spain


The BEST week of my life!!! I could definitely live like this. All the cetaceans we saw were so beautiful and amazing. I definitely want to come back next year. My favourite was the Risso’s dolphins, as they are so beautiful. The researchers and the captain were all very friendly and welcoming and the food was great, especially the cakes! I am very sad to leave. I wish I had another week on board! I wish you all the best of luck for the rest of the season. Next time, I want to see a fin whale ☺ See you next year!

Paolo(17), England


It’s amazing to see people so enamoured and passionate - to have love like this for animals is something that brings more to the world, and I can only hope that more people experience this and some of it ‘rubs off’. Just like the dolphins and whales that touch each other you have touched me. Thank you so much – please keep in contact and I hope I can continue to help you with your work. Love.

Myvanwy, Australia


Non so più cosa dire. È stata la seconda volta che ho passato una settimana sulla “Pelagos” e devo dire che qua mi sento più a casa che in qualsiasi altro luogo. Ho solo 17 anni ma è già da tanto che amo il mare e in particolare i cetacei. Però non è soltanto questo che mi fa voler ritornare il più presto possibile o meglio semplicemente non andarmene mai più. È il team dell’ istituto Tethys lavorando sulla barca che ti passa la passione per i cetacei del mediterraneo. È la barca che per 17 persone non è grande però è bellissima e il posto più bello per passare una settimana d’estate che si può trovare. È anche il capitano che, anche dopo una giornata senza avvistamenti, mi ha fatto essere ancora contenta, dicendomi: “La cosa più bella sulle balene e sui delfini è che sono libere. E perché sono libere un giorno li vedi, un giorno non li vedi. E se poi li vedi è un regalo.” Tuttavia, l’ esperienza è “bittersweet”. Guardando il video sui delfini comuni mediterranei di cui ci sono ancora quindici – o dieci – o forse zero, ci sono venute le lacrime agli occhi. In questa settimana siamo riusciti a vedere capodogli – giganti e impressionanti, un sacco di stenelle – divertenti e carinissimi, zifi – rari e bellissimi, e grampi – speciali e individuali. Una settimana meravigliosa, anche perché non siamo entrati nel porto per quattro giorni (!). Ho imparato molto e il cibo era favoloso. Grazie al team e al capitano, non dimenticherò mai le esperienze fatte nei giorni passati e spero tanto di poter ritornare presto. Grazie!!!

Julia (17), Italy


A lot can happen in a week. Dolphin. That’s the one like Flipper, right? Does the tricks at Seaworld and has a big grin. Sperm Whale. That one’s easy. Moby Dick. Fin Whale. Er, it has a fin? Just one short week ago that was about the sum of my knowledge of odontocetes and mysticetes. You see, a lot really can change in a week. I could write about the magnificent animals that we were so fortunate to see. Or I could write about all of the knowledge and facts that the researchers were so generous in teaching me. But instead, I’d rather say how much the last week has changed me. I decided to come to the Tethys programme as I did not know anything about whales and dolphins and if truth be told I had not previously been particularly interested in them. Not that I was indifferent to their plight, but rather that they had never really registered on the radar before. Or should that be echolocation? (Crikey, another thing I learnt). The two things that began to change my attitude to these animals were seeing them in he wild, and listening and feeling to the passion and dedication the researchers had for them. Pictures and TV programmes just cannot do justice to the speed and agility of a striped dolphin or the size and power of a sperm whale. Seeing them free and in their natural habitat gives a whole new perspective the them. But seeing a Curvier's beaked whale on the surface for a few magical moments gives you only a glimpse at the real animal. It was listening and talking to the reasearchers that really made me realise how special and important these animals are. So a big thanks to Alessia, Enrico, Morgana, Claudia and Roberto. There can always be a danger in anthropomorphism, in that sometimes we take a decision regarding a species not on what is best for the animal but rather on what is best for us. What I learnt during this week is that we should not only help and protect these dolphins and whales because they give us pleasure, but also because a world where these magnificent animals can not survive and flourish is probably a world in which we will not survive and flourish too. Finally, there can sometimes be a little trepidation before embarking on a new adventure like this. I can sincerely say that I could not have wished to spend a week on a boat, in the middle of the Ligurian Sea with a nicer, more interesting group of people. Hope you all have a wonderful life.

Matthew, England


Thank you all so much - Enrico, Claudia who knows almost everything, Morgana, Alessia the actress who first told us of the mysteries of the Mysticetes, e il capitano Roberto who helped us all feel safe – indubitabilmente! It has been wonderful living with you and the other volunteers for a few days, and sharing our lives together. You have taken us to some wild and beautiful places - we especially remember waiting still and quiet in the open sea, out of sight of land, for the Cuvier’s beaked whales to surface again, and also the striped dolphins playing around the boat and the bow. You have organised us with a good mixture of authority, charm, knowledge and kindness without over-control - molto simpatico (there is no English word for simpatico because we are not good at doing this!). Although this was an experience of great beauty for us it was also bittersweet because we all know of the dangers these animals, and we ourselves, now face.

Peter, England

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