29 August 2010
Wake up, work, get home, dinner, gym, sleep.
Wake up, work, get home, dinner, gym, sleep.
Wake up, work, get home, dinner, can’t be bothered going to the gym, sleep.
Etc etc etc.
And so the days continue, bored and totally lost of focus, excitement, dedication and purpose. In a city like London, it is so easy to get lost in the crowd, be just a nameless face. Pessimism and negativity towards humanity and their effects on the planet had set in, however truthfully, I was not doing much to help either. What I take with me, apart from all the amazing experiences mentioned above through out the years, is a sense of purpose and hope. I have seen first hand that the world could just stand a chance, because there ARE people that care out there. I had forgotten to believe this. And to meet two of these people, Joan and Andjin makes it a real and inescapable fact. How inspiring! I sincerely thank you for this. Keep up the amazing work.
Wake up, teach my class and spread the word, get home, dinner, gym, sleep.
Wake up, continue to spread the word, get home, dinner, gym, sleep.
Wake up, watch the kids spread the word, get home, dinner, still can’t be bothered going to the gym, sleep.
Etc etc etc.
As I sit here, Sunday morning, the morning of our departure, I try and write. I sit here drawing a blank; a quite literal lack of words. For everyone that knows me or has met me can appreciate that my silence is as rare and, more importantly, peaceful as a blue moon. The town, the people, the animals, the adventures, and the new family I have made over the past week have imprinted upon me something that I cannot express in the little time I allowed myself to process this most life changing of experiences. Hopefully, when I look back at my life in the coming few years, the gravity of my time here can be quantifiable. However, until then, my reticence will have to make due.
Cheers to the Dolphins of Greece and all of the people who live and work to preserve them. You passion is unrivalled.
22 August 2010
The work you do is great. Thank you so much for teaching me more about dolphins than I could ever read about in a book. I going home and educating my family about how to ask questions at restaurants, and how to buy fish. I had a fantastic time, way to short though. Thank you for stopping and picking up the garbage in the cove. Every little bit helps, and just may be other people will get the message! Joan, I am going to miss your humour and your smile. Keep doing what you’re doing. People like you are what makes such a difference in the world. Keep smiling… I will be back some day, hopefully next year. I hope to see you again. Andjin, thank you for the Dutch humour and patience with all of us! Don’t ever give up. You can reach your dream!
What should I say… time with you and the beautiful dolphins was just too short! I learned, enjoyed and laughed a lot! Since I had absolutely no expectations and simply wanted to do something meaningful during my vacation, I was overwhelmed by everything that we experienced together. The field work was only part of this journey in the cetacean world. I am so grateful that you also introduced to us many issues of the global fishing industry and… made me think… made me reflect on my consumption behaviour… convinced me that I can also react to all the problems in the marine ecosystems worldwide. THANK YOU! I am so happy to have met you and been part of this project! Looking forward to future meetings and to working on all ideas we had during dinners and café time! Andjin, thanks for your jokes and your patience with all of us during the cropping time!
Thanks to you, I had a very good time in Vonitsa! Of course, it’s first time to see wild dolphins for me. So I was really excited about it. In addition, you introduced to me some issues on global fishing industry. I know we Japanese also have much to do with these problem. So when I go back to Japan, I must study and learn more about the cetacean ecosystem, the issue of fishing and, of course, the argument between Japanese government and IWC. I will be a doctor and as such my work will be saving people. But it’s the people that cause environmental problems. So I think it’s very important to have a passionate concern for both, people and environment. I want to be a doctor who can cure not only people but also the Earth! It was so great talking with you! I will miss you! Joan, when I meet you again, I will definitely be able to understand your jokes! (I must study English). I promise I will give you a ride on a yacht when you come to Japan! Please do not worry about our three kinds of Japanese alphabet. Andjin, thank you for taking care of me! I will check my quarters and remember to drink water regularly even when I go back to Japan. When you come to Japan in the future, please let me know! I will probably be around Tokyo, so I can show you around in gratitude!
I cannot begin to thank you for enriching my life. I was so moved by the beauty of the sea, the charming villages and the magic of the dolphins. What a gift you gave me. Your patience, teaching skills and knowledge are impeccable. The daily lectures and casual conversations, at the dinner table, truly opened my eyes to how important preserving all life is. It is so easy to believe that we, as people, are not damaging the sea because we visually can not see what goes on underneath. Your teaching methods were kind and you showed much patience in helping me understand. I can’t even imagine the self sacrifice, which comes with your kind of work, you are admirable. My wish is that more people cared liked you do. Andjin, thank you so much for your kindness and patience in assuring a successful project. You took extract time to assure I understood the logistics, and many other aspects of the project.
This has been perhaps one of the best animal experiences I have ever had in my life. I do not want it to be over! I have been very impressed with all you have done to organize and manage this project. Everything I have witnessed has been, in my opinion, very well documented and particularly unbiased in terms of how you gather data, the level of detail and care taken to ensure proper protocols, procedures, etc. In addition, you have both been excellent hosts and given us all good opportunities to enjoy ourselves and have some fun at your expense. The food has been delicious and healthy. I must also say that I was exceptionally impressed with how informative the information was prior to arriving in order to prepare us for a great project. Thanks for answering all my questions – there were many, no?. Finally, thanks for using your fantastic experience and talents to help our world and these wonderful creatures. This is very selfless of you both! That is a dedication that I can now appreciate much more thoughtfully and empathetically. I have great respect for both of you but particularly you, Joan, because I totally understand and appreciate your guidance to all of us. I think you might see me again! Ciao!
12 August 2010
Thank you so much for introducing me to the wonders of the Seas. After many years absence from Earthwatch travel, I chose this project to acquaint myself with marine wildlife and the issues that surround them. Our seas and oceans are a part of our planet that until recently I have had little time to explore. Your project has not only educated me on the issues in this breathtaking region but also serious issues worldwide. I will always be grateful for this. Your enthusiastic teaching and seeing firsthand your true passion for your dolphin family has been truly inspiring. As a professional who has spent a career working in science and with animals I want to thank you for being so thorough and presenting such thought provoking material for the group to mull over. Your professional and caring approach for your dolphin charges and other gulf wildlife residents reminds me why this planet does stand a chance. Over and above this, seeing the dolphins in the beauty of their home and spending time in this quaint village has not only been an awesome experience but every moment with you has been great fun. You are the best. Thanks.
Thank you for all of the amazing experiences here. The way I imagined it would be was not even close to the magic of seeing dolphins up close. I will always remember their acrobatic grace, curiosity, and spectacular leaps out of the water. I was so moved by their interest in us—gliding up to the bow to bow ride, coming up to the boat and turning to look up at us, poking their rostrum and eyes out of the water to see us better. Making eye contact with one of the dolphins will be one of my best memories. After all that humans have done, it was incredible to see their openness to us.
Joan, thank you for explaining some of the science behind the beauty. I appreciate your comprehensive approach to battling the many stressors on the dolphins. The evidence of the common dolphins’ disappearance from Kalamos is indescribably sad. I am sorry that I can only imagine what it was like from your descriptions of when they were so plentifiul, rather than being able to see it with my own eyes. I admire the intense passion you feel for your work, and, after this experience, I can understand it. Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions, giving us background with presentations and documentaries, and, most of all, giving us the opportunity to experience dolphins (and the mobula ray!) up close.
Panni, thank you for your gentle understanding. Your kindness and patience made me much less nervous on the boat and... in the kitchen! ☺. Thank you also to Andjin for the help with cooking dinner and dessert. And Posi, sweet soul that you are.
04 August 2010
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."
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,
03 August 2010
A very nice article featuring work by Tethys in the Amvrakikos Gulf, Greece, as well as an upcoming paper on compassionate feelings towards the sperm whales stranded in Italy in 2009:
The article, written by Rowan Hooper, appeared in the Japan Times.