Research Assistant for Cetacean Species

Non lucratif
fondée en 1991
Tethys Research Institute
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Coordinateur | Adriana
Coordinateur | Adriana
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Join us on our long-term project focusing on the ecology, behaviour, feeding habits and conservation of the cetacean species.
Be part in the conservation of our environment and help us to preserve our treasure!
Gain experience in marine life conservation!
Experience life in a vessel!
Meet fellow volunteers from around the globe!
FRom mid May to the end of September participants will be involved in the research on cetaceans living in the vessel "Pelagos sanctuary". This volunteer program is especially suitable for:
Âge 17+
Seul voyageur

The Cetacean Sanctuary Research (CSR) — established in 1990 — is a long-term project focusing on the ecology, behaviour, feeding habits and conservation of the cetacean species living in the Pelagos Sanctuary. Eight different species of whales and dolphins live in the Pelagos Sanctuary in the north-western Mediterranean: striped dolphins, sperm whales, fin whales and bottlenose dolphins are the most common marine mammals.

Our cruises are quite different from simple whale watching. Children aged 12 to 16 y old can join us but have to be escorted by an adult

Every day will be spent at sea as long as the weather conditions allow it.  You will be involved in various research activities, from sighting shifts during the day to night watches, in case weather and sea conditions are good enough to spend the night in the open sea.

You also help the researchers collecting scientific data, including geographic location of sightings, dive durations, behaviour, group size and composition. In some cases, faecal and prey samples are also collected in order to obtain information on dietary habits of fin whales and sperm whales.

Researchers and project participants often listen to vocalisations recorded in the field and help in the processing of digital photos of cetaceans sighted, in order to recognise different individuals.

Lectures on cetacean biology and conservation are also given by the researchers. The skipper is always eager to answer questions about navigation and sailing techniques.

No previous experience.

Participants must also be willing to share housekeeping duties and space on the boat. The contributions of the participants over the years represented the main funding source for our research.

Research is conducted on board our research vessel “Pelagos”, departing weekly from Sanremo(Italy), from May to October.

“Pelagos” is a two-masts motorsailer used for the research with citizen-science participants in the cetacean Sanctuary. The spacious and very comfortable Tethys boat is managed according to the rules of responsible tourism; it is equipped with sophisticated instrumentation used for navigation and the collection of scientific data. “Pelagos” has two masts and can sail and manoeuvre by means of a fully electronic system, that can be switched to manual at any time. An inflatable craft is sometimes used to get closer to the animals. Since 2012 the vessel is cleaned only with eco-friendly detergents (organic,non-toxic and biodegradable), kindly provided by Biolù..

Journée Typique

In a typical day we wake-up between 7:00 and 8:00 AM, depending on circumstances. We will depart after breakfast and spend the day navigating and conducting research. Both researchers and participants will be assigned sighting shifts in order to ensure constant sighting effort.   In some cases, when weather conditions are optimal, a night may be spent at sea for research purposes. However, less favourable conditions will force us to spend the night in the harbour or in a sheltered bay. Once sighted, cetaceans may be followed for up to several hours, while a series of variables and information is recorded. 

During the day, there is also time to relax when you are not on shift, and sometimes even stop for a swim break, and learn basic navigation skills from the skipper. 

One must always bear in mind that flexibility is essential in order to participate to research activities such as this one. Please note that since weather and sea conditions favorable for cetacean sighting and data collection (lack of wind and flat sea) are not the same that allow sailing, the boat normally does not use sails and proceeds with the engine on.

Activités de Loisir

In case of unfavourable weather or harsh sea conditions, the boat stays in the harbour or in a sheltered bay. This is not only for the safety of the crew but also because it is not possible to conduct valuable fieldwork in rough seas. Participants may decide to stay on board assisting the researchers with data analysis and computer work (e.g. photo-identification of cetaceans) and attending the lectures held by the staff, or they may visit the surrounding area. Along the “Riviera” there are many nice villages for shopping and sightseeing.

Some places of interest:
Sanremo (sometimes spelled San Remo) is a city with about 57,000 inhabitants on the Mediterranean coast of western Liguria. San Remo enjoys special weather conditions throughout the year due to its vicinity to the Mediterranean Sea and the presence of the Maritime Alps,
making it one of the most attractive tourist destinations on the Italian Riviera. There are two tourist harbours: The old Porto Vecchio and the modern Portosole. There are many boutiques and local shops in the town centre. The colourful market, held on Tuesday and Saturday

mornings in Piazza Eroi Sanremesi, is famous among the people living in the Italian and French Riviera.

Monte Carlo, 43km from Sanremo is one of Europe's leading tourist resorts. If you plan to visit this city before or after boarding on Pelagos, you should not forget to visit the Monaco Cathedral, the Napoleon Museum, the Prince's Palace and the Oceanographic Museum. The Oceanographic Museum, created in 1910, is a monumental structure with an impressive façade towering above the sea. The museum houses remarkable collections of various marine species and a large section is dedicated to cetaceans.

Nice is a city in southern France. A major tourist centre and a leading resort city on the French Riviera (Côte d'Azur), it is the historical capital of the County of Nice. It is situated roughly 55km from Sanremo. If you are planning to visit the city, you should not miss the Cours Saleya, with its colourful flower and food market and all its fantastic pedestrian streets for a spot of shopping. The Colline du Château, through the labyrinthine alleyways of Vieux Nice, offers a wonderful view of the city from the top. Nice also has excellent museums like the Matisse museum or the Mamac Museum of modern art.

Sports Nautiques
Plongée /
plongée en apnée
Musée /


Pour participer à ce programme tu dois avoir au moins 17 ans quand le programme commence.
Compétences Linguistiques
Tu dois parler anglais (niveau de base)
Exigences de Formation
No previuos experience is request. In-depth information about the different aspects of cetacean research will be given during the week spent on board through interactive lectures and open discussions. à niveau From High school to University
Documents Requis
You have to declare to be in good health, fit et steady on their legs by signing an application form you ill receive after your reservation
Restrictions de Nationalité
Aucune restriction. De l'aide venant de tous les coins du monde est bienvenu.
Autres Compétences
Children aged 12 to 16 y old can participate only if escorted by an adult.
Engagement de Temps
Nous avons besoin de ton aide le mardi, mercredi, jeudi, vendredi et samedi

Services inclus

Services de Tethys Research Institute

Included in the fee:

  • Food and beverages (breakfast, lunch and dinner, except for alcoholic and soft drinks) for the duration of the cruise
  • Accommodation on board
  • Mooring expenses in Sanremo harbour
  • 24h harbour showers
  • Electricity, water heating and cooking costs
  • Fuel for the research vessel and the inflatable craft
  • Lectures and training by Tethys researchers
  • Certificate of involvement in the Cetacean Sanctuary Research


Research by Tethys in the Ligurian Sea is conducted from a comfortable vessel, "Pelagos" — a 21m motorsailer with two masts built in 1990. The deck is covered with teak wood and is particularly comfortable. Below deck, accommodation is entirely finished with teak. The comfortable dining room has leather seating, a music player, a computer with a large monitor, a bar and a fridge as well as air conditioning (for use in the harbour or when necessary). The galley is small but comfortable and equipped with three refrigerators. The kitchen is equipped with three fridges and is located in a separate cabin. 

 There are five cabins hosting up to 16 people (up to eleven participants, four researchers and the skipper): 2 four-bed cabins (one for the researchers), and a very large and comfortable cabin for 6 people (2 double and 2 single beds), and a small cabin at the bow with two single beds (for the skipper and one researcher). Each cabin has its own private bathroom, equipped with hot water. In order to preserve the boat’s wood panelling in the bathrooms and control the humidity levels below deck, it is our custom to take hot water showers on deck at the stern while navigating. Otherwise, we benefit from access to the showers in the harbour, 24/7 and free of charge for boat guests. 

Project participants live and sleep on board Pelagos throughout the duration of the cruise, sharing the same cabins and bathrooms. Internet access is not available onboard, but there are Internet cafés in town.

Aliments & Boissons

Before the arrival of the participants we go shopping so you can find on board pasta and rice, spell, couscous, legumes (chickpeas, lentils, peas etc), fresh vegetables such as zucchini, aubergines , tomatoes, potatoes, etc, eggs, cheeses and of course a lot of fruit. Large quantities of water sparkling and fresh water. We have on board also red and white wine and  beer.

For breakfast you can choose milk (also soya and rice milk), the and coffee, yogurts , biscuits, cornflakes, crisp bread, bread, butter jam and honey, etc, depend on what you prefer.

Everyday two participants and one researcher will cook breakfast, lunch and dinner and wash up. We will suggest you some recipe always considering the food requirement of  the participants (vegetarians, vegans) and also possibly allergies and intolerances but we encourage participants to prepare different recipes from their home countries and share them with the rest of the team.

Accès à Internet
Désolé, aucun accès sur le site du projet
NE SONT inclus dans le prix:
Visa, billets d'avion, assurance voyage ne sont PAS inclus dans les frais de programme. Le transfert de l'aéroport n'est pas inclus dans les frais non plus.
Billets d'avion
L'aéroport le plus proche est Cote D'Azur Airport (NCE) à Nice. Nous t'aidons à trouver des vols pas chers pour aller en Italie.
Assurance Voyage
Partir à l'étranger est une aventure et c'est toujours mieux d'être bien préparé. Que ce soit une maladie soudaine, une blessure ou du vol - une assurance voyage pour Italie te protège en cas de situation imprévue.
Si tu envisages de faire du bénévolat en Italie, nous te conseillons de consulter un médecin avant le début de ton voyage. Renseigne-toi sur les vaccins nécessaires pour Italie.

Dates et Prix


Informations sur l'arrivée

Boarding on Monday and disembark on Sunday.

No places still available for the research season 2022, new calendar for the research season 2023 will be ready at the end of December.

The research season is from May to September during the sunny and warm Mediterranean summer when the whales arrives in the area for feeding.

Arrival on Monday afternoon and meeting on board the research boat, ice-breaking session, introduction to the project and presentation of all staff and team members, information about safety measures. 

Tue-Sat: Visual and acoustic monitoring during navigation surveys in daylight hours; possible nights spent out at sea in favourable weather conditions; daily lectures. 

Sunday: Pack-up, boat cleaning and departure.
Children aged 12 to 16 y old can join us but have to be escorted by an adult

At Tethys 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:

1 -  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.

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

janv. févr. mars avril mai juin juil. août sept. oct. nov. déc.
1 - 4 sem

Frais de Programme

Frais: Prix en USD
1 sem (durée min.)
$1 260
2 sem
$2 410
3 sem
$3 610
4 sem (durée max.)
$4 580
Coût moyen
$1 203 /sem

Merci de noter que les prix ci-dessus sont des prix estimés et qu'ils sont soumis aux fluctuations des taux de change. Tethys Research Institute t'informera du prix final au cours du processus de candidature.
Acompte (15%)
L'acompte sert à réserver ta place avec l'organisation. Les paiements sont effectués par Paypal, notre partenaire de confiance pour les solutions de paiements internationales. Si tu n'as pas Paypal, tu peux également utiliser ta carte de crédit.
Montant Restant (85%)
Le paiement du montant restant doit être organisé avec Tethys Research Institute durant le processus de candidature. Très souvent ce paiement est effectué par virement bancaire ou en espèces.

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Ce qu’on dit sur Volunteer World

Research Assistant for Cetacean Species

FRom mid May to the end of September participants will be involved in the research on cetaceans living in the vessel "Pelagos sanctuary".


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