Marine Biology Course

founded in 2009
Global Nomadic
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Coordinator | Jeremy
Coordinator | Jeremy
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.
We need nature committed volunteers to investigate the declining of the dolphin populations in the Italian Mediterranean Sea. This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

For those wishing to jumpstart or further a career in marine biology, or for more casual conservationists keen to enjoy Italy's 'dolce vita' while contributing to important ecological research, this one week Marine Biology Course on the Italian island of Ischia is for you. You will specifically investigate declining dolphin populations in the Italian Mediterranean with a local NGO, living aboard a historical cutter ship of 18 m and contributing to ongoing academic research and conservation initiatives.

The presence of common dolphin populations off the island of Ischia, Italy, has been consistently documented since 1997. The short-beaked common dolphin Delphinus delphis is a small cetacean species with a wide distribution. Literature, photographic documentation, and osteological collections indicate that the common dolphin used to be common - thence its name - throughout the Mediterranean Sea, however the species has experienced a dramatic decline in numbers during the last few decades, and has almost completely disappeared from large portions of its former range including the northern Adriatic Sea and the Ligurian Sea.

In 2003, the Mediterranean common dolphin 'subpopulation' was listed as endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. A number of interacting factors may have played a role in the decline of common dolphins in the Mediterranean, ranging from natural fluctuations to the impact of human activities. Some of the human-induced threats - based on the available evidence - are most likely to be implicated in the species' decline. These include factors as diverse as

  • prey depletion,
  • contamination by xenobiotics,
  • direct killing,
  • fishery bycatch and
  • global climate change.

Other potential threats to Mediterranean common dolphins include

  • disturbance by recreational vessel traffic,
  • noise from shipping,
  • mineral prospecting (seismic) and military sonar
  • and oil pollution.

 The research is conducted in collaboration with: ASMS Ocean Care (Swiss coalition for marine mammals), Humane Society, OceanoMare, RSPCA (Royal Society for the prevention of Cruelty to Animals, University of Naples (Geology Department), Zoological Station A. Dohrn.


  • Work and study aboard a sailboat cruising the Mediterranean, searching for marine life, conducting research, whilst attending onboard seminars from seasoned scientists
  • Hands-on experience monitoring and observing, acoustic analysis and seamanship
  • Ideal for Marine Biologists and Animal Science, Environmental studies professionals and students

Typical day

On board there will be lectures on cetology: the research of cetaceans in the Italian seas, the key areas for the study of whales and dolphins in the Mediterranean, conservation and preservation, evolution, adaptation to the marine environment, classification, insight into the cetaceans of the Mediterranean and of the studied species in particular, bioacoustics, social behaviour and interaction with fisheries.

You will leave every day to sail, according to the project and weather conditions. Your duties onboard consist of helping researchers monitoring dolphins. Dolphin behaviour is recorded together with geographic position, group size, group composition, group formation, surface activity patterns and duration of surfacing intervals. Behavioural sampling is coupled with acoustic recording of dolphin vocalisations, in order to relate the sounds produced by the animals to different behavioural activities. Navigation data are collected in order to estimate dolphins relative sighting frequencies. You will also help record the presence of sea turtles, tuna, swordfish, fish schools, mantas, moonfish and marine birds.

Get on board with this unique project and gain invaluable research, monitoring, and evaluation skills, while enjoying Italian wine (included in the project fee) and the clear waters of the Med.

Free-time activities



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 (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
This placement is particularly suited for those looking to gain a career in marine biology or environmental conservation. You do not need any specific skills, although any you do have will be very beneficial.

Reasonable physical fitness is required.
Time Commitment
Regular working hours are hardly predicable. It mainly depends on the work force. Get in touch with Global Nomadic straight ahead to get more infos about current to dos and objectives.

What's Included

Services by Global Nomadic
  • accommodation
  • insurance
  • in-country support
  • orientation and project activities
Student discount and returning volunteer discounts available - enquire when apllying.
The prices can vary between US$900 and US$1012 depending upon when you go. Enquire the exact price depending on your dates via the Volunteer World platform.
You will live on board the cutter ship. You will be in a shared cabin with basic bathroom and kitchen facilities. Interested volunteers can learn the main riggings to sail such as steering, hoisting and striking the sails, and take confidence with sheets, halyard, compass and courses. You can also collaborate with the crew during the mooring.
Bedroom (Double)
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 Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport (FCO) in Rome. 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

Start Dates: Placements are available throughout the summer months, between June and October.

You will be given easy to follow instructions to get from Rome (Fiumicino) international airport to the island, where you will be met by project staff and taken to the ship.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
1 - 1 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
1 week (min. stay)
1 week (max. stay)
Average fees
$1,012 /week

Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated. Global Nomadic 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 Global Nomadic during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.

Why book with Volunteer World

Extra security layer by Volunteer World
Volunteer World is the world's leading comparison platform for international volunteer opportunities. We guide you through a safe and easy application process - including all necessary payments. Planning your next meaningful trip with Volunteer World gives you free access to our:
Quality Assurance
High ethical standards & transparent social impact
Flex Option
Change your reservation at no extra costs
Refund Guarantee
We refund your fees if Global Nomadic cancels your trip
Support & Mediation
We cover your back no matter what happens
Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by Global Nomadic.

What are people saying about Volunteer World?

Marine Biology Course

We need nature committed volunteers to investigate the declining of the dolphin populations in the Italian Mediterranean Sea.


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