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Dolphin and Marine Research Assistant

Ischia Island, Italy

Agency | GoEco

In this program volunteers get to learn about the biodiversity of the marine ecosystem. Volunteers will get the chance to contribute to the valuable research.

The project

This project has been operating since 1991 and it directly contributed to the establishment of the marine protected area known as Neptune’s Kingdom. The main focus of the project is to collect data which can create an accurate picture of the cetaceans’ life including population sizes, social structures of the populations, habitat use and distribution and the acoustic repertoire of the animals. The project also evaluates the impact of the operations of local fisheries and vessel traffic upon the ecosystem.

In addition to its scientific goals, the project promotes education and awareness activities for the public, publishes its results to the scientific community and aims to improve the conservation efforts in the area.  

The location

Ischia, often called the “Green Island” because of its lush flora and fauna, is located in the Gulf of Naples and is a volcanic island. The island’s 46 square kilometers are home to about 60,000 people. Many tourists flock to Ischia to enjoy the therapeutic healing offered by the abundant, natural thermal springs and thermal mud.  The region is a feeding and breeding ground for fin whales, striped dolphins, Risso’s dolphins and sperm whales and it is also considered a critical habitat for short-beaked dolphins. 

Volunteer Work

Volunteers will be involved in every aspect of this project and will work very closely with the captain and crew. This is a very serious research project. Participants should be prepared to learn about the research methods used by the team and assist with data collection as well as sailing the boat and helping with cooking and cleaning duties.

Typical day

Weather permitting, volunteers will be out at sea every day and will work in one hour shifts to spot dolphins and whales as well as sea turtles, manta rays, sword fish, tunas, large schools of fish and sea birds. Once there is a sighting, everyone on the boat will have a job to do. This will include:

  • Filming the dolphins using a GoPro camera underwater but also to monitor surface behavior
  • Recording behavioral data
  • Recording bioacoustics through the boat’s underwater microphones
  • Photographing the animals for identification purposes
  • Steering the boat

Sightings can last for several hours but once the animals leave, the work is not finished. All of the data collected has to be entered into the navigation computer and stored on hard disks. During the evenings, volunteers will have the opportunity to watch what was filmed that day or films from the archives.  

In the event that weather conditions prevent the boat from sailing, volunteers may assist with data entry and analysis, attend lectures given by the research team or explore on the island.

It is important to note that activities take place in the wild and that the animals behavior is unpredictable, therefore cetaceans sightings are not always guaranteed.

Free-time activities

Volunteers can choose to have one day off per week which can be used to relax on the sandy beaches, see the sights of the island or indulge at one of the natural thermal pools. 

Some popular activities include:

  • Visiting the old village of Ischia Ponte and the Aragonese Castle 
  • Hiking to the top of Mount Epomeo
  • Visiting the other islands including Procida and Capri
  • Going scuba diving.

Water Sports

Program Requirements

In order to join the program you need to be at least 16 years old on the program start date.
Language Skills
You need to speak English (intermediate level)
Health Declaration
Nationality Restrictions
No restrictions. Helping hands from all over the world are welcome.
Other Skills

Minimum age 16
Good physical health
Comfortable in hot weather
Comfortable on a boat
Good level of English
Highly adaptable
Time Commitment
Regular working hours are hardly predicable. It mainly depends on the work force. Get in touch with GoEco straight ahead to get more infos about current to dos and objectives.

Suitable for


Any questions? Just ask. We at GoEco are happy to help you.

Contact Project Coordinator
Contact & Reservation

Included Services

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Our services are free of charge!
All program fees are charged directly by GoEco.
Services by GoEco
  • Accommodations: 2 single bunks and 2 double bunks on board a 17.7 meter boat
  • Insurance: Comprehensive travel health insurance with volunteer abroad coverage
  • Support: In-country staff and 24hr emergency support

Volunteers will stay aboard a 17.7 meter oceanic oak cutter which was built in 1930 by a famous French architect. 

There are 3 single bunks and 2 double bunks for volunteers plus a changing room. 

There are separate bathrooms and showers (cold water only) for men and women. There is also a solar powered, hot water shower on the boat or volunteers can use the hot showers at the port free of charge.

Laundromats can be found on the island. Internet cafes can be found on the island as well.

Bedroom (Double) Bedroom (Single)
Food & Beverages

Volunteers and crew members (except for the captain) will shop, buy and prepare food for everyone on the vessel. There is a kitchen on board and room for food storage.

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.
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.
Costs (Prices in USD)
2 weeks (min. stay)
2 weeks (max. stay)
Average fees

You can volunteer at the project site in Ischia Island/Italy between 2 weeks and 2 weeks. Please note that the above shown program fees are estimated and subject to exchange rate fluctuations. GoEco will let you know about the final price during your application process.
Crowdfunding Service
Generally, volunteering abroad involves certain costs. In case you need financial support, we will assist you to fundraise your volunteer program in Italy.
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 GoEco during the application process. Common solutions are either via bank transfer or a cash payment at the project site.
Europe Southern Europe Italy Ischia Island, Ischia Island

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