As time moves on, the memories of great experiences do not fade, but grow significantly more important in my life. I will leave Vonitsa and Dolphins of Greece with every confidence in the future. I firmly know that the impact of this past week will remain with me. I will always talk about the town, Joan and Panni, and of course and so importantly, the dolphins and their water habitats both here in Greece and globally. The passion and dedication to his work coupled with his deep devotion to these amazing sea mammals makes Joan stand out as a very special scientist. I have great respect for people who live their lives with these qualities. Personally, I have never really been very close to sea life, yet dolphins have intrigued me greatly. This week has facilitated change in my connection to the underwater world! Thank you!
Thank you for an amazing week in Vonitsa. A few things I will never forget .... Riding out in the boat early in the morning with the mist still on the horizon and the sun pale and sparkling on the bay .... Watching the moon rise over the rocky hills to the east .... The diamond spray of dolphins jumping in the far distance ... The Dalmation pelican flying low, dragging its feet in the water .... The glossy arcs of the dolphins surfacing .... The sound of their breathing with the gulls crying ... slender terns flying over us ... Dolphins leaping, splashing, churning the water all around us .... I am sad to leave, but very grateful to Joan and Panni for all they’ve done. Joan ... I appreciate your dry sense of humor almost as much as your skill as a teacher. Your patience and clarity as well as your deep sense of commitment are inspiring. It was so enlightening to spend these days in your company and to learn a little bit about what it takes to do scientific research (not to mention how to make that great yogurt dish for the lamb kebabs.) Thank you for teaching me so much about this incredible place and the beautiful dolphins who live here. Panni .... thank you for sharing your warmth, enthusiasm, compassion and intelligence so generously. It’s been glorious.
This is our 5th visit to the Dolphins of Greece project and it was as amazing as ever. Watching dolphins calmly swimming, leaping out of the water, surface feeding, bow riding etc is so incredible even now – we doubt that we’d ever get tired of seeing it! Favourite moments include watching a group of dolphins close to the boat feeding gently, with dolphins all around us at various distances jumping and leaping excitedly; sitting with the boat engine turned off and listening to the dolphins blows, while swimming around us and feeding. Fortunately, we’re off to Ithaka for a couple of days and will be back for the next team to see lots more incredible behaviour. But the most amazing time has to be the time spent with the turtles! Thanks to Joan, Panni, Posi and the dolphins and turtles for such a great week – remember we would like some Common and Striped Dolphins in Kalamos next week!
Elaine and Richard (UK)
"Oh, I have had my moments, but if I had to do it over again I would have more of them—just moments, one after the other."
-- Nadine Stair
I have tried to live my life by this quote, appreciating the moments, as well as the broader picture, as I travel through life. This was never more true than this week as I collected observations as a traveler, dolphin watcher, lay-researcher and human being. I had many questions about what I saw and learned a great deal from Joan and Panni, both fantastic educators. I gathered inspired ideas about what I will bring back to share with my students, colleagues, family and friends about this experience. I learned a lot about what it takes to be a successful researcher, as I helped to carefully observe and record vital data. I observed the way of life here in this corner of the world, one very different and yet beautifully similar to my own. However, most importantly, I have a string of memories- these moments- that will forever connect me to the dolphins and their habitat. From beauty we receive truth and clarity. The dolphins’ lives here are not unlike our own, forever linked to the world around us. Though I have to spin the globe to see Vonitsa from my home in New York City, the environmental impact IS in my backyard.
I leave here committed to spread the message about these beautiful creatures and the impact we have on them. My goal is that someday, the girls I teach will be able to come here to see a cleaner gulf, a thriving dolphin poulation, and a graphs with lines of disappearing creatures and clean waters heading in the right direction.
I have come to Greece to learn about dolphins and about our past connected to this historic land. I feel I will leave this country feeling a sense of ownership for the intertwined nature of our world- people, animals and ideas- in a way that I never would have imagined. With incredible gratitude,