28 April 2010

Dolphins of Greece volunteers, 17-24 April 2010

As Joan said very rightly: after this experience you will never look at a dolphin fin the same way. Who would have imagined fins can look so different! But of course the most marvellous experience was the time we spent on the boat, with the dolphins! It was really great to see the differences in their behaviour, to hear them breathing so close by and see their friendly faces. It completely made us forget the chilly wind – imagine that in a few weeks teams will be heat-battered in that same boat.

What made the expedition really enjoyable was the team spirit: it must be because we were such an international (5 nationalities) team that we were able to cooperate so smoothly. We were fortunate to have a team with great sense of humour: if jokes sometimes got a little out of hand, we can only blame that on “ouzo” and “krassi”. We learnt that Germans can be ferocious drivers, that being negative on command is not an easy thing to do and that Joan “no habla ingles” when the discussion gets tricky. Meanwhile our live-from-the-field teacher kept several classes of American kids up-to-date with our expedition findings and did a good deal to help them realise how they can help to save endangered marine species from extinction. We hope you will see some of them on an Earthwatch expedition in the future!

Stephan (Germany), Marie-Claire and Cas (Holland)


This experience has been truly amazing for me. I left America with a very different attitude than I will be returning with. Joan’s passion for his work was contagious. He was a very good teacher when it came time to explain the big picture and how our choices are affecting the environment in such negative ways. I had no idea that overfishing was as bad as it is. The documentaries really showed how depressing is the situation and how we, as consumers, have the power to change what is happening. The message I want to take back to my classroom is that every one of us plays a part and that asking the right questions and becoming more educated about what we buy is the way to get things moving in the right direction. I have to say I am a changed woman and I will be approaching some aspects of my life very differently as a result of this trip.

I want to thank Joan and Panni for their hospitality. It cannot be easy welcoming four very different individuals into your home and successfully making them all feel comfortable. The balance between work and play was very nice. I got to see a lot more than the dolphins, which would have been enough. I will never forget the faces of those dolphins and how it felt when they looked at you. If only they would stay above the water just a little longer so I could get a decent picture of them. The time on the boat was amazing and intense! I am sorry that it has to end, but I leave here knowing that my students will benefit greatly from the information I have gathered. As a result, I believe our environment will benefit greatly too, even if it is just a little.

Apart from learning a lot about dolphins through presentations as well as constantly asking questions to our patient expedition leader, we received a thorough insight into the state of commercial fishing, the already depleted resources of the oceans and possible solutions to those problems.

Nicole (USA)

27 April 2010

Back on track

On Saturday our first team of Earthwatch volunteers for the 2010 research season left our field base in Vonitsa, after a week spent working with us on dolphins in the Amvrakikos Gulf.

It could not be a better team to get things started. Stephan, Marie-Claire, Cas and Nicole were hard-working and good fun.

It was also a challenging week for Annikó (Panni), our new Hungarian research assistant, who is learning fast and who will be soon posting some comments in this blog.

Our volunteer Nicole teaches third grade for boys in New York City and she joined our project as a Life From the Field Fellow. During her stay she communicated with her students via skype and her blog. We held several video conferences with hundreds of students, who had the opportunity of hearing about the experiences of their teacher and ask questions to the Tethys staff.