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Bottlenose Dolphin Observer Bottlenose Dolphin Observer Rangiroa, French Polynesia GEMM NGO | GEMM
We are looking for people to help with underwater observation, collection and archiving of data on a small community of bottlenose dolphins impacted by diving tourism.

Project Details

GEMM (Marine Mammal Study Group) is a non-profit organization dedicated to the conservation of whales and dolphins in French Polynesia.

Who we are ? GEMM ('Groupe d'Étude des Mammifères Marins' or 'Marine Mammal Study Group') is a non-profit organization based in French Polynesia. It is composed of biologists, naturalists, photographers, scuba divers and sailors caring about the future of marine wildlife.

What we do ? The action of GEMM is based on three principles: knowledge, conservation and mediation. Our situation, in the middle of the Pacific ocean, and our field vocation motivate us to carry out annual marine mammal surveys in sensitive or vulnerable areas. We are mainly working on problems related to the unframed development of marine mammal tourism and the conflicts between fishermen and cetaceans within the Marine Mammal Sanctuary of French Polynesia.

Where we work ? French Polynesia is located in the heart of the South Pacific Ocean and includes 5 archipelagoes scattered over an area of 5.5 million square kilometers. GEMM is based in Rangiroa (Tuamotu Archipelago). We also work in Makatea, an elevated atoll located south of Rangiroa and in the Society and Marquesas Islands. French Polynesia enjoys a very mild tropical climate and is equipped with modern infrastructures. No vaccinations are required to come and stay there.

Our mission / vision. Through our contribution to the conservation of marine mammals in French Polynesia, our mission is to preserve the natural functioning of animal populations in their ecosystems. Team members sharing our concern and goals join us from all countries to support our work or to train. We are working with them to ensure that wild marine mammals and their ecosystems are better known and respected.

Our goals. We work to improve the relationship between humans and wild animals.

Our long term study on the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) community inhabiting Rangiroa waters focuses on the behavioral changes and risks related to close interactions between dolphins and scuba divers. We also lead global discussions on the excesses of animal tourism.

Our annual study on humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) allows us to identify individuals around Makatea Island and to test a non-invasive approach of animals or groups of animals, particularly mother and calf pairs which are particularly vulnerable to disturbing whale watching activities.

Our work on the existing conflicts between fishermen and marine mammals consists of identifying the species involved in depredation (mainly short-finned pilot whales, Globicephala macrorhynchus, and rough-toothed dolphins, Steno bredanensis) and proposing solutions that respect the well-being of whales, dolphins and fishermen.

Who are we looking for ? We are looking for committed people who are ready to support us in our missions and annual expeditions to monitor the health status of cetacean populations in the Sanctuary of French Polynesia.

Why choose us ? With GEMM, volunteers discover a new vision of wild marine mammals in exceptional settings. Among the highlights of our missions and expeditions are the animals on which we work, the sharing of our knowledge, the involvement of the participants in the individual recognition of the dolphins that we have been following for almost 10 years, the incredible scenery of the Tuamotu archipelago and the kindness of the inhabitants of Makatea.

The main focus of the project is on
NPO Status
Yes, registered non-profit organization
Foundation Year
Contact Person
Pamela Carzon
Spoken Languages

Social Impact

At the local level, GEMM has forged several partnerships with environmental NGOs and laboratories (e.g. Center for Island Research and Observatory of the Environment, Research Institute for Development) for the safeguarding of the Polynesian natural heritage. It has also set up an intervention network on marine mammal problems in partnership with the national gendarmerie, a 'citizen science' network for cetaceans (Rés'Océan) and a network of operators proposing well-managed whale and dolphin watching activities (GreenDive).

At the national level (France), we initiated and supervised several Msc studies and PhD thesis in collaboration with the École Pratique des Hautes Études. GEMM has also participated in the production of articles and French television documentaries on the issue of animal tourism. We are member of the French National Stranding Network and collaborate with several researchers on the excesses of animal tourism and worldwide conflicts between fishermen and marine mammals. We also collaborate with the Observatoire Pélagis of La Rochelle (Marine Mammal Research Center) on aerial census of cetaceans and seabirds overseas (REMMOA campaigns 2011, 2014 and 2017). We are currently working with Marquesan NGOs and artisanal fishermen to limit the impact of the development of industrial fishing and depredation in the Marquesas Islands.

Pursued Sustainable Development Goals
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