Dolphin Internship

Delfini del Ponente
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Coordinator | davide
Coordinator | davide
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Get involved in cetacean and seabirds research
Enjoy marine biodiversity while gaining fieldwork and lab experience
Spent several time on the sea and see animals in their natural habitat
Learn different methods for studying marine mammals in the wild
Travelling and exploring the beautiful Liguria Region
Boat and land based surveys for bottlenose dolphins, collection of different data on cetaceans and other marine fauna, Photo-id matching/ classwork and QGIS analysis. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

The project needs a commitment of at least 30 days. Participants will assist researchers while working onboard dedicated research vessels. Interns will be involved 5 days a week, 6-8 hours/day (depending on fieldwork or lab work), also during the weekend if the weather is favorable. The program is highly flexible and with possible last-minute changes due to the changeable weather. The program is not prior scheduled and the activities for the next day are often communicated in the evening (before 21:30). The coordinators make every possible effort to switch between field and office work during the week, but this is not always possible due to weather constraints. It can happen, for example, to go to the field 4 days a week or the opposite, to stay in the office for a whole week.

Interns will be involved 5 days a week, 6-8 hours/day (depending on fieldwork or lab work), also during the weekend if the weather is good. During their free time, interns will have the opportunity to experience all sorts of activities: swimming, diving, hiking, exploring historical sites, visiting museums, sailing. This program and project is the only one carried on all year round, during all season, to collect data not only in summer but also in fall and winter while no other boats are going out. 

A volunteer is very important because thanks to them we can go out on the zodiac and collect different kinds of data. The program is highly flexible and with possible last moments changes because of the weather condition. Usually, the program is not prior to scheduled and the activities for the next day are communicated usually in the evening (before 21:30). Usually, we tried to switch between fieldwork and office work in a week but this is not always possible because of the sea and weather conditions. Could happen to go out 4 days in 1 week or the opposite, to stay in the office for a whole week.

Typical day

Fieldwork (5-8 hours):
BOAT-BASED SURVEYS: around 10 times/month. Interns will help and participate in collecting different kinds of data and actively searching for animals. Usually, a survey lasts from 5 to 8 hours and it is required to use binoculars for the majority of its duration. Fieldwork will help participants to gain first-hand experience in collecting data on free-ranging cetaceans and improve skills on cetacean boat-based surveys. Surveys are weather-dependent.

LAND-BASED SURVEYS: only in Winter, Spring and Autumn. It consists of the collection of environmental data, marine traffic, and dolphin presence from two different strategic points in Imperia. Every month at least one land-based survey aimed at the observation of seabirds and birdwatching is scheduled.

Fieldwork can be scheduled at any hour, it can start at sunrise or end at sunset. Surveys are weather- dependent and our plans can change often even during one single day. Extreme flexibility is therefore an essential prerequisite. Remember that, even though the sighting probability in the Pelagos Sanctuary is very high, the chances of observing marine wildlife at sea are always unpredictable and not always guaranteed.

Office work:
Office work includes transcription of data, data entry on laptop (transcription on Excel forms of all the data collected on the field), photo-id analysis and matching (main activity, organize and analyze the pictures of previous sightings of bottlenose dolphins, organize in sub folders and then match all the individuals with our catalog of dorsal fins), QGIS analysis (generally not in Summer, organize the dataset to map on Gis sightings points and tracks). Classwork duties last no longer than 6 hours a day.
During the month, lessons about different topics of marine mammals and marine fauna (Biology, ecology, research techniques used in this topic, conservation…) will be given by the coordinators to the interns.
At the end of the internship each intern is required to prepare a short presentation (around 10-12 minutes) about one of the topics of interest.
Be aware that in case of bad weather, the field work will not take place, in alternative it will be possible to spend more time doing classwork and/or our Biologists will suggest other activities in the surroundings.

Free-time activities

During the free time, interns will have the opportunity to experience all sorts of activities: swimming, diving,hiking, exploring historical sites, visit museums,sailing.

Water Sports


In order to join the program you need to be at least 18 years old on the program start date. There might be exemptions if you can provide the permission of your legal guardian(s) or if your are accompanied by your parents.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (basic level)
Required Documents
CV and motivation letter
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Be highly adaptable and flexible as fieldwork is weather-dependent and our plans can change several times in one day.
Ability to stand several hours in the sun or cold weather on a small boat.
Ability to use binoculars for several hours on a boat
Prior experience in cetaceans or boat-based surveys is not required, but preferred.
Degree or on-going studies in biology, natural science, veterinary or similar (preferred).
Strong motivation and interest in cetaceans and research.
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 09:30 - 17:30

What's Included

Services by Delfini del Ponente
Fee includes the accommodation in an apartment in Imperia, electricity, water usage and all associated field costs during the internship period (use of research vessel, training, use of equipment, field trips, association membership and insurance ) t-shirts, certificate of attendance, lectures and training and scientific supervision. 
In order to facilitate interns, we will provide accommodation in an apartment very close to the office and to the harbour. The flat is composed of a spacious living/dining room with a double sofa bed, a kitchen, 2 toilets and 2 bedrooms (one with two separate single beds and one, generally for the intern coordinator, with a double bed). 

It is furnished with a washing machine and a dishwasher. Interns are responsible for their own food preparation, cleaning and house duties. Interns are expected to take care of the apartment and leave it in the same conditions as they found it. Interns must be aware of the presence of only one bedroom that will have to be shared by the 2 participants.

Smoking is not allowed inside the apartment.

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. Food, snacks or beverages are at extra costs.
Flight Tickets
The nearest airport is Cote D'Azur Airport (NCE) in Nice. We assist you to find cheap flights to Italy.
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 Italy provides security and is a plus to have.
If you are intending to volunteer in Italy you should seek medical advice before starting your social journey. Check your required vaccinations for Italy.

Dates & Fees


Details on arrival

The project needs a commitment of at least 30 days, starting to the first of every months and ending the 30 or 31 of the month.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
4 - 15 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
4 weeks (min. stay)
8 weeks
15 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$333 /week

The organization charges its fees in EUR. The price table in USD is subject to currency fluctuation. Delfini del Ponente 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 Delfini del Ponente during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

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Dolphin Internship

Boat and land based surveys for bottlenose dolphins, collection of different data on cetaceans and other marine fauna, Photo-id matching/ classwork and QGIS analysis.



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