I have always wanted to observe dolphins in the wild, and this summer 2009 it finally came true thanks to Tethys! When we first spotted the dolphins and came close to them, I was hypnotysed and could not take my eyes off them! When the dolphin looks in your eyes, the heart stops and there is nothing else. It’s you and the dolphin. Nothing else matters. It took me a while to switch my attention to my assigned task with the equipment! I want to thank the organisers of this program for the great idea of involving volunteers into research work and bringing up that idea to life! The experience of all living in the same house, cooking together, doing house work and spending time on the boat makes one feel part of a family. At the end of the week, I have a different perspective of looking at the dolphins and life in general and made new friends!
"Girls you are so lucky! You saw all three species of dolphins in just two days!" - the researchers told us. Yes, we saw bottlenose, common and striped dolphins in our first two days out to sea, but that’s not what made us so lucky… The Tethys Research Institute’s volunteer program was definitely an experience we’ll all remember. From cooking and cleaning, to identifying dolphins by matching dorsal fins, we did it together - and shared a bond that only getting on a little inflatable boat at 8 AM could create. Out at sea, I think every one of us discovered a little portion of their identity. Yet at the same time, our relationships with fellow volunteers, the researchers, the dolphins, and nature as a whole grew as well. Every day, we learned a little more about the program, the dolphins, each other, and ourselves. By the end of the week, we were a family. We all came from different countries and had different backgrounds and unique life stories, but when the dolphins zig-zagged playfully at the bow of the boat, we all embarked on one unanimous emotional adventure. Sure, we appreciate seeing all three dolphin species in the first two days we went out to sea. But I want to thank Tethys for letting us become part of the little family they have here at Galaxidi, and transforming what could have been just a regular volunteer project into something much more. I think what made us truly lucky was that we were able to be part of such a special project - one that turned the house we stayed in into a home.
The project brings home the aspects of nature not normally advertised in public society today. Here at the project, we have learnt so much more than we ever imagined about the nature of the sea and the damage humans are doing to it. However, learning in such a beautiful landscape and in such fantastic company we saw only what we had dreamt about. The intelligence and gentle behaviour portrayed by the dolphins was breathtaking, they were so sociable with each other and acted so perfectly as a team, it moved us deep inside. We were so lucky to see all three types of dolphins - bottlenose, common and striped. And also a sea turtle! Each animal filled us with amazement and left us quite emotional especially knowing the background of the troubles faced by all sea creatures. The team in Galaxidi was an inspiration since the beginning. Their care and hard work towards us and the dolphins was outstanding and we felt honoured to be with them. The researchers seemed to be so compassionate and there was something quite special about their love, dedication and interest for cetaceans. We have the same interestes as the researchers, which helped to create a strong sense of family among our group.
Nadine, Germany, and Grace, U.K.