Marine Researcher

Project Manaia
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Coordinator | Manuel
Coordinator | Manuel
Book with Flex Option! Choose new departure dates or change to a different volunteer program at no extra costs.


Experience the sailing life in one of the worlds best spots for Watersports
Be part of an international crew on board
Gain experience in Marine Research in the field (Under water)
Get your hands on some of the fancy research gear such as ROV, Plankton nets and Hydrophones
Get close up to Dolphins and whales in the wild
You will join an international crew aboard a sailboat to work for the protection of our seas. And you will learn to collect data, organize and enjoy the sea at its best! This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Age 18+

Join us aboard our research Sailboat in the Mediterranean. 

Do you want to be part of an international crew aboard and help with data collection underwater? We will teach you the necessary skillset for habitat mapping, species Identification and mapping of their distribution, and spotting for Marine Megafauna, such as dolphins, whales, and turtles. 
In recent years habitat loss has become one of the major concerns in the Mediterranean sea, as it is generally followed by a loss of various species that depend on it. With our work, we aim to identify key locations of healthy habitats and work towards their protection in order to counteract those developments.

As a volunteer aboard, you will be part of the actual research team, which means snorkeling, measuring seagrass meadows, looking for species, taking pictures and videos of all the different organisms you see, and learning to identify them! While we are sailing you will also be standing watches - spotting whales and dolphins and trying to take the best possible pictures of them for Photo Identification with our partner organizations. 
In other words, you will not be considered a passenger on board, but rather a part of the crew, where everyone chips in with daily tasks, watches, sailing time and we all get to enjoy our free time together as well.

You will be living aboard a 14m sailing boat, together with up to 5 more people, which gives everyone enough space to find a quiet corner when needed but also enough social areas to live and work together. During your stay, we generally move every other day for a 4-5 hour sail to the next location, which gives us enough time to map and check the underwater world in each location properly and of course to have a look onshore as well if wanted.

While no prior experience in sailing, diving, or marine research is required (we will happily teach you all the necessary skills on board) any background in related fields or previous experience will make it easier for you to find your routine - that being said so far everyone managed to pick up on all the new skills and tasks within a week. 
All the equipment needed for the scientific and outreach work is available on board, but we do recommend to bring your own snorkelling gear, as this ensures, that the mask fits properly and the fins don't hurt your feet after a short time.

Typical day

07:30 wakeup

08:00 - 09:00 Breakfast (self service)

09:00 - 10:00 Snorkelling session (Marine species counts, species ID, habitat mapping)

10:00 - 14:00: Sailing to new location (with marine megafauna watches)

12:00 - 13:00: Lunch underway (One person cooks for everyone, second person does the dishes)

14:00 - 15:00: Break time

15:00 - 16:00 Snorkelling session (Marine species counts, species ID, habitat mapping)

16:00 - 17:00 Data entry (computer - generally 1-2 persons)

17:00 dinner

18:00 - 07:30 Free time (Sunsets, music sessions, guitar lessons, presentations if wanted, .... room for games)

Free-time activities

On weekends we are aiming to be in Marinas, but free time activities on board also include all kinds of watersports as well as music (Guitar and Ukulele on board), wildlife watching and social interaction, games and much more. Once tied up to land whatever the city has to offer is free to do!

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 (intermediate level)
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills
Sailing, diving, freediving skills are great but not a must. All necessary skills can be gained on board
Time Commitment
Your helping hand will be required on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 09:30 - 16:00

What's Included

Services by Project Manaia

The fees collected are covering all the associated costs on board, such as food, fuel, maintenance, marina fees, cruising permits, and much more. Everyone on board - including permanent crew chips in to this pot that keeps the boat running year-round.

Just as an example: 
- Food shopping for the boat runs at about makes up about 20%
- Fuel prices can add up to several hundred euros a week at bad times
- a night in a marina can be VERY expensive in the Mediterranean

all those costs, as well as repairs, boatyard times etc are covered by us


Accomodation is of course covered on board.

We have a double cabin in the bow of the boat as well as bunk beds In the saloon area.

Food & Beverages

All food and (non alcoholic) drinks on board are also included.

Diet on board is generally vegetarian, but we aim to make space for all dietary restrictions and needs

Internet Access
Limited 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 Naples International Airport (NAP) in Naples. 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

Joining dates are every second Sunday, starting from the first of May, as the minimum stay is two weeks, the stops are spread out around the Tyrrhenian sea and it will give you a chance to pick the perfect time window for you, but please choose a slot of 2 weeks minimum with a start on a Sunday!

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
2 - 24 weeks

Program fees

Costs: Prices in USD
2 weeks (min. stay)
4 weeks
6 weeks
8 weeks
10 weeks
24 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees
$676 /week

The organization charges its fees in EUR. The price table in USD is subject to currency fluctuation. Project Manaia 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 Project Manaia 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 Project Manaia 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 Project Manaia.

What are people saying about Volunteer World?

Marine Researcher

You will join an international crew aboard a sailboat to work for the protection of our seas. And you will learn to collect data, organize and enjoy the sea at its best!


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