Coastal Dolphin Conservation

founded in 1991
Tethys Research Institute
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Coordinator | Adriana
Coordinator | Adriana
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Explore and volunteer in beautiful Greece!
Volunteer with us and gain a first-hand understanding of the motivations that inspire our work!
Be involved in the monitoring of the secondary study area located in the Inner Ionian Sea archipelago°
Work side-by-side with researchers and contribute to field data collection
Meet like-minded volunteers from all over the world!
From June to September, be part of a scientific team focused on the study and conservation of coastal dolphins in the beautiful waters of western Greece. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 17+

By sharing every experience with us, and ultimately living a researcher’s life, you will gain a first-hand understanding of the motivations that inspire our work, appreciate its significance for dolphin conservation and learn about the importance of protecting the marine ecosystem and its wonderful inhabitants.

While most of the survey effort will be carried out in the Gulf of Ambracia, volunteers will also be involved in monitoring of the secondary study area located in the Inner Ionian Sea archipelago. Such monitoring, however, will depend on weather conditions and project priorities. After each survey, all the data is entered into dedicated databases. 


  • Surveys to monitor dolphins in the study areas are conducted daily from the IDP’s rigid-hulled inflatable boat equipped with a 100HP outboard engine.
  • Individual photo-identification, used to obtain information on dolphin abundance, movements, habitat use, social organization and reproductive success.
  • Recordings of the group size and behavior of the dolphins during long-lasting observation sessions, which are subsequently analyzed through GIS software.
  • Recordings of other marine species including sea turtles, tuna, swordfish and seabirds.
  • Inspection of dead dolphins found stranded or adrift in the study area, to identify the causes of death whenever possible, and collection of biological samples for further investigations. Occurrence of dolphin by-catch in fishing gear is also recorded.
  • Assessment of the interactions between dolphins and local fisheries.Once their participation is confirmed the volunteers will receive a pdf file with detailed information on every single aspect of the project, including information on the study area, meeting arrangements on arrival and useful info and travel tips on how to get to Vonitsa.

Although in most cases our volunteers are 18 years old or more, we can also accept younger volunteers as long as they participate in the project accompanied by and adult (e.g., parent/s, family member or a friend that is21 year old or older). This possibility is discussed on a case-by-case basis.

All our volunteer weeks start on Sundays and finish on Saturdays. Please keep this in mind when arranging your volunteer journey.

Typical day

Volunteers will conduct daily surveys onboard the research boat, working side-by-side with the researchers and contributing to field data collection. You will actively engage in visual surveys, looking for dolphins, sea turtles, birds and other fauna during navigation. As soon as dolphins are sighted, volunteers will help to record angle and distance from the boat. You will help to record dolphin spatial distribution, group sizes (a demanding task, as dolphin groups are often large and fluid), group composition (i.e. number of newborns, calves, juveniles and adults) and behavior at five-minute intervals throughout the duration of the sighting, as well as to look out for sea turtles, birds and other animals.

At the field station, you will contribute to data entry and analysis of digital photos. You will be taught how to file, name, crop and prepare digital photos of the dolphins’ dorsal fins for subsequent matching. You will then engage in individual photo-identification based on natural marks on the fins, by matching the dolphins photographed at sea with a digital catalogue of known animals. You may also assist in the identification of birds associated with dolphins, and of fish prey in the birds’ beaks, based on digital photographs taken in the field.

Volunteers and researchers alike will engage in cooking and housekeeping shifts (on a rotation). Shared tasks will include meal planning and preparation. Those that are not familiar with cooking are recommended to bring some recipes with them. Dishwashing and house cleaning are also communal activities shared by all.

Free-time activities

Volunteers will have plenty of free time. The work at sea is concentrated mostly during the morning hours. Once back from the sea, we will all have lunch at the field base. Then, all team members will have about 2 hours of free time before starting to work with the data collected at sea during our dolphin observations. 

Usually, the afternoon activities are interrupted around 7pm; it is then when those in charge of preparing dinner start so set things up and the rest of participants are free to do as they like until dinner time (around 8-8:30 pm). 

No specific activities are scheduled during the free time. Volunteers will do as they like depending on their own initiative and interests. Typically free-time hours are spend resting and chilling out at the volunteers accommodations, walking along the seaside, spending time in local bars, tavernas or at the beach. 

In the field base there will be a sign-in/sign-out form, where volunteers will write their cellphone number, what time they are leaving and what time they expect to be back, in order to keep the project's personnel informed of their whereabouts in case they need to be contacted.



In order to join the program you need to be at least 17 years old on the program start date.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Skills essential to participation include an open mind, flexibility to changing situations and a desire to help and learn. Experience in use of computers would be a bonus, but is not necessary.
Parental consent form needed for underage.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 08:00 - 18:00

What's Included

Services by Tethys Research Institute

Our calendar is scheduled to have 1-week teams starting on Sunday and finishing on Saturday. There are special offers for students. Participants joining us for more than one week will have a 10% discount in any additional team. These are non-cumulative offers.
Accommodation and Food is included. Travel expenses and beverages/food occasionally consumed in local tavernas and bars will not be covered. Volunteers are expected to issue their own travel insurance that covers them in case of an accident or illness.


Our field base, just 50 meters away from the seaside, consists of the first floor of a two-storey house and is divided into two areas: an apartment with a large living room, open kitchen and a big balcony, two toilets with showers (one for staff and one for project participants), two bedrooms (for staff) and the office. The second area is a large comfortable loft of 90 square meters where participants will work and also sleep (bunk beds). Sheets and blankets are provided.

Dorm Room
Food & Beverages

Vonitsa offers a choice of restaurants and taverns where volunteers may choose to eat dinner at their own expense (an average lunch or dinner costs about 12-20 Euro). Shopping is usually done by project staff members in Vonitsa, where one can find well-equipped, modern supermarkets and ingredients for the most demanding palates and needs. This way self made breakfast, lunch and dinner are included. Alcoholic drinks are not covered by the project. The fridge at the field base will always have fruit juices and water.

Internet Access
Good access at the project site
What's NOT included?
Visa, flights, travel insurance or vaccinations are NOT included in the program fees. An airport pickup isn't included within the program fees either.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Aktion Airport (PVK) in Preveza. We assist you to find cheap flights to Greece.
Travel Insurance
Going abroad is an adventure and it is always best to be prepared. Sudden illness or injury, cancellation or theft - a travel insurance for Greece provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Greece you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Greece.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

Departures available:  21 Aug, 11 Sep

We believe that the best way of protecting our project participants and personnel is by making sure that all members of our research teams are fully vaccinated. Therefore, in order to be able to participate in the IDP the following two conditions are necessary:

R    ALL PROJECT PARTICIPANTS must present proof of full vaccination.
Validity: 14 days after the second dose of vaccine. For Janssen (Johnson and Johnson), the vaccination is considered completed 14 days after the single dose has been administered).
Accepted vaccines: Comirnaty (Pfizer BioNtech), Spikevax (Moderna), Vaxzevria (Astra Zeneca/Oxford), Janssen (Johnson and Johnson), Novavax, Sinovac Biotech, Gamaleya (Sputnik), Cansino Biologics, Sinopharm.

R    In addition, participants must present a negative result of a PCR or antigen test taken within the last 72 hours at the moment of their arrival to our field base, when meeting our research personnel.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1 - 4 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
1 week (min. stay)
2 weeks
3 weeks
4 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$923 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. Tethys Research Institute will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Deposit (15%)
The deposit is simply to reserve your volunteer placement. Payments are handled by PayPal, our trusted global payment provider. If you don't have a PayPal account, you can also pay using a credit card.
Final Payment (85%)
Your final payment will be agreed with Tethys Research Institute during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

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Coastal Dolphin Conservation

From June to September, be part of a scientific team focused on the study and conservation of coastal dolphins in the beautiful waters of western Greece.


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