Bottlenose Dolphin Research & Conservation Volunteers

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Vivamar Society Published: August 25, 2017
Closing date


Bottlenose Dolphin Research & Conservation Volunteers
Volunteer for the LAST RESIDENT BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN off Istria, Croatia
Vivamar Society, founded in 2002, is offering the volunteer opportunity in the research activity of Bottlenose dolphins along the western coast off Istria, Croatia, in the heart of Europe. This is an excellent offer for students that would like to, besides doing research, visit a new country, and help in conservation of the last remaining marine mammals in the NE Adriatic.  The situation is interesting due to the growing anthropogenic pressures which need to be reported and spoken out by research, in order to reduce/prevent a subpopulation’s decline.
VIVAMAR teams are small (comprised only of 6 members) and can therefore offer intense connection between the team members and a dedicated  researcher to motivate students. The program comprises lectures on Marine Ecology, Marine Mammals of the Adriatic Sea, other large vertebrates in the Adriatic and their role for the Marine Ecosystem balance, daily research on the field, including learning of the methods, data analysis and possible engagement in Vivamar awareness activities to the local people. Interns will also learn how to prepare and deliver the key messages, which might remain as a good learning experience also for the everyday life and later for the employment.
The available 2017 Team dates are:
2017 dates
19th JUN - 29th JUN
3rd JUL - 13th JUL
17th JUL - 27th JUL
31st JUL - 10th AUG
21st AUG - 31st AUG
4th SEP - 14th SEP
and also 18th-28th of September 2017 - still time to book!
Volunteer participation is crucial for the research programme survival.  The positions therefore require the cost coverage.
The price for the 11 day intern/volunteer team duration is 998,00 EUR (and 97,00 EUR for the visitors' tax fee, local excursion, invited lunch to the typical restaurant, bike hire, smorkeling goggles).  This is an all-inclusive rate.
The price doesn’t include the transportation to and from the research site and health insurance. For more information please visit and write to  You will obtain a welcome pack with logistic details, a research design, code of conduct and additional useful information.
  • min work on a programme 4-6 hours/day; you will work 8 days out of 11,
  • strong interest in the study of marine mammals,
  • positive attitude to the other team members,
  • being able to recognize the importance of Dolphin conservation & research for the local Marine Ecosystem and through this Vivamar efforts in the area,
  • independent work, as well as in the group,
  • basic computer literacy in Microsoft Office and possible ability in writing the reports (or at least a will to learn that);
  • no previous experiences needed, if you don't have them;
  • Minimum age: 18
  • Participant must be a swimmer
  • Language (one of them): English, German, Slovenian or Croatian;
  • Interest: enthusiastic, team player, willing to help in Dolphin conservation, interest in marine biology and marine mammals;
  • No vaccines are needed
The country is extremely safe, it is within EU.
These are the last constantly present marine mammals in the whole North-East Adriatic Sea. Therefore, take an opportunity of being part in the mission for protecting the last resident and, in number, potentially declining animals which are foremost important in keeping marine ecosystem healthy.  Established in Slovenia, Vivamar later expanded to Croatia, since these are the same individual dolphins and face stronger anthropogenic pressures off Istria. The research area is an important feeding and calving ground to more than 100 dolphins living there and belongs partially to the Natura 2000. The later is the biggest network of nature protection areas in the EU and was established here particularly because of the dolphins. Vivamar is the only organization executing dolphin research along W coast off Istria, so its activities are crucial also in raising the awareness between the local people and internationally.
Funtana, where we start the boat surveys, is a small town situated in the middle of Istria, which is a peninsula in the NE of the Adriatic Sea, in the Mediterranean. It belongs to Croatia, which joined the EU in 2013. Hidden from the sea winds it is surrounded with charming islands and the crystal clear water. South-wards is a magical town Vrsar, nested into a hill and soon after is a 12km long Lim channel, a submersed carst valley. When doing regular observations you will be happy to see one of the most beautiful towns on the Adriatic coast: Rovinj. It so romantic that it gathered a nickname “Marine Nativity Scene”. Further to the south are other natural and cultural beautiful places, like Natural park Brioni or Kamenjak – the latter being the southernmost tip of Istria. Perfect geographical position for the Holiday extension and for visiting Venice, Dubrovnik, Ljubljana, Postojna cave, Piran, Pula.
All volunteers will stay in the same apartment where also at least one Vivamar team members will be. The rooms are shared with one or highest two persons and are equipped with bunk beds and an additional sofa-chair for chill out. The apartment entrance extends to a spacious terrace which is a great hang out area and it overlooks the sea. Volunteers shall bring their own beddings and towels. In a special case they are available for a 5,00 EUR copayment for the washing. There is a cooling and heating A/C in the apartment. After coming from the field there is a marina with the most modern showers, so no problem to take the shower there as well. Wi-Fi is available. Computers are equipped with Skype program, so it is possible to use it. Cleaning responsibilities are shared by all volunteers and staff daily. Volunteers, if they wish, might bring with themselves binoculars and cameras to make the unforgettable photos.
Cereals, toast/bread, jams/spreads, fruit, tea and coffee are available for breakfast. Lunches are as well self-service. Lunch generally comprises sandwiches, fruit, biscuits and juice / tea / coffee. Other food is also available. Dinners are prepared together with cooking and washing up responsibilities shared.  Meals are mostly vegetarian and typical dishes include Mediterranean food, pasta, risotto, roasted veggies etc., there will be one night grilling behind the house and party-like dinner. Regular visits to a supermarket allow team members to purchase their own alcoholic beverages as required.
Fabulous experience also for those that want to extend their holidays. For those that want more activities within the spare hours through the team duration, there are numerous possibilities for fantastic walks, visits like nearby Vrsar by foot or to take a swim in a clean sea. There will be an excursion organized at least on one day within the team stay, either going to Brioni natural park (copayment needed due to the entrance fee) or Kamenjak natural park. Or visiting any from the famous touristic towns like: Poreč, Pula, Rovinj or Motovun (a typical Istrian village, that resembles an Italian Toscany). On one of the nights there will be a walk under the stars organized into the inland of Istria. It will be also possible for volunteers to do the recreation together, like morning stretch exercises on a terrace with the music or morning running on the beautiful calm path ways next to the sea through the pine trees. There will also be a bike or two available.
Funtana has excellent geographical position so there are wonderful possibilities to visit European trip highlits, like are: Venice (one of the most beautiful towns on the world), Dubrovnik (an Adriatic pearl town), Ljubljana (Slovenian capital), Postojna cave (absolutely magical and 3rd biggest cave on the world), Piran, even Vienna etc. All logistical questions for holiday extension we can discuss on the spot.
  • have a first hand insight into a “Day of a Bottlenose Dolphin” in the nature and into all threats that these animals face,
  • while having a general touch into the Biology, Ecology and Conservation of Marine mammals for the whole team of volunteers, if you will show further interest, we can have an advanced look into their physiology, ethology and you can have a scientific supervision while working with data and learning,
  • meet and work in a team with like minded people,
  • get to know new habits, different culture, hear a new language, learn a word or two,
  • enjoy the Mediterranean sun and the crystal clear blue water in the spare free hours,
  • eat healthy Mediterranean food and while preparing, learn how to do it… try out the Istrian olives and Istrian truffles,
  • visit a new place, for many a new country, get to know a beautiful coastline and the inner land nature of Istria, that in some parts stunningly resembles Italian Tuscany (we will take one day for the excursion)…
  • when, if at all, did you last time sleep outside in a clear summer night under the countless stars?  If you wish you have the possibility to do so here with us, on one of the nights. Be adventurous!  And of course – help dolphins.
Please click this link to view a short video VOLUNTEER for Dolphin Conservation
Please click here to read Vivamar's guest blog - The Mission of Vivamar
Please send us an interest inquiry to  along with your short background experiences and interests.
Meet you in this summer in Zambratija for Dolphin Conservation, DARJA RIBARIČ, MPhil in biol. President and Head researcher, VIVAMAR Society for the Sustainable Development for the Sea Dolphin Research & Conservation / Marine Wildlife Awareness

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