Volunteer with Oceanomare Delphis Onlus

Oceanomare Delphis Onlus

Forio , Italy, Europe

Oceanomare Delphis Onlus (ODO) is a non-profit organization established to study and preserve cetaceans, and the ecosystems they inhabit, through knowledge, conservation and awareness actions.

Volunteering Activities


What We Need

Participants live on board of the research vessel Jean Gab that preferably navigates under sail. During your staying days will be almost entirely dedicated to the research activities and all participants will take part in the fieldwork. Every day, except for the arrival and the departure days, will be spent at sea. Survey tracks are laid out to provide a roughly even coverage of the study area but might be adapted to prevailing weather conditions. Participants will be asked to help researchers in the collection of data and sailing activities.

Participants will rotate, together with the researchers, in watching shifts of one hour each during the whole navigation period until dolphins/whales are sighted. There are two observers on duty at every turn. Besides whales and dolphins, we also record the presence of sea turtles, tunas, swordfish, manta rays, large school of fish and seabirds. The acoustic system helps in the localisation of the animals: the hydrophones detect any sound produced by cetaceans at an average distance of 3 nm and the software indicate the direction of the signal. It is then possible to approach the animals. In the evening, the boat goes back to the harbour. Sometimes nights can be spent in a bay at the anchor or, for research reasons, out at sea.

Everybody has a role to play during sightings. Good teamwork is the key for an enjoyable experience and an excellent data collection, such as filming dolphins with the underwater camera under the bow of the vessel, collecting behavioural data, recording sounds, filming and photographing the animals for their identification, and steering. A sighting can last several hours, and in the meantime, normal duties on board such as cooking and washing dishes have to be carried out.

When & Who

Helping hand will be required on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 09:00 - 18:30
Yes, we require a minimum of 1 week
Individuals, Family with Kids, Groups, Retirees

What we Provide

Onboard on Jean Gab, our research vessel. Jean Gab is an oceanic oak cutter built in 1930 in Marseilles and designed by André Mauric, the famous French maritime architect. Overall length: 17,70 m; Beam: 4,45 m; Draft: 2,50 m.
André Mauric also planned the French sailing vessels for the America’s Cup (France I and France II) and signed the Pen Duick IV, used by the famous French sailor Eric Tabarly in the Whitbread Cup.
Jean Gab is Mauric’s first large sailing vessel. It was built to race and cruise in all oceans. It is a fast vessel with beautiful flowing lines, stable even with rough seas with a firm heel of few degrees. The construction plans of Jean Gab are kept in the Maritime Museum in Marseilles and shown in the French carpentry schools as models of maritime functionality that match speed with stability. This vessel is therefore meant for a fast ocean navigation and both the external and internal spaces are designed for this reason. The exterior is wide and spacious to leave place for manoeuvring, while the interior is small, comfortable and stark because planned to protect the crew from the force of the billows.
Inside there is first a wide kitchen with table and large windows. Here we cook, store food and, when raining, eat our meal. It can also be used as a little living room in the free time.
Going down in the “womb” of the boat, we reach the sleeping room for 6 participants of both sexes (two2 single bunks and two double bunks). In August, when usually the turn is full, you may be asked to share the double berth with another participant of the same sex. If you happen to come in a quiet turn, you will have the use of more room for yourself.
Next to the sleeping room there is a small changing room, a gent toilet and a ladies one (with cold water), a room and bathroom reserved to the skipper (with cold water) and, on the bow, the “sailor cabin” with two or three (with a child) sleeping places and independent entrance from the bow of the boat. There is a sun-powered shower onboard, but for a hot shower (free of charge) we can use toilets at the local port.
The welcoming deck of the Jean Gab is ideal during navigation. At the stern of the vessel, there is the space for the helmsman and a bench, comfortable and sheltered from the wind. This area is connected to the indoor kitchen. At the centre of the vessel, underneath the mast, there is the external “lounge” with a table. Lunches and dinners are served on the outside table, in our “private lounge” under the stars.
We remind you that life onboard of sailing vessels like Jean Gab is a choice: simple, communal and eco-compatible lifestyle conserving energy and resources. There is very little privacy even behind the curtains of the cabins. Nevertheless, the spaces are large enough, and the sea and the sky will offer you unlimited horizons, and each watching shift will give you the possibility to taste the peace of sailing.

Hot Water
First Aid

Our Fees

Depending on the period $950-1070 (second turn discount $880-998) for one week.
Included in the fee: accommodation; electricity, water and gas; port fees and petrol; scientific supervision and lectures on cetaceans held by the researchers; certificate of participation (available upon request); insurance for the whole duration of the course, provided by the organisation.
Not included in the fee: travel expenses to and from the project location; food and drinks to be divided among the crew consumption (say a few tens of Dollars per head, it depends); personal expenses (telephone, bar, souvenirs etc.).
Second turn or participants: who have already come If you book a second week or if you had joined the program before you will pay the discounted fee.
Students: Upon request, the project will consider the application of special reduced fees for students.
Expeditions run weekly, starting on Monday ending on Sunday from May, 14th to September, 30th.

Contact Person

Barbara Mussi
Via Zaro 22, 80075 Ischia, Forio, Italy.
100% response rate

Additional Info about Us

5 to 10 people

Check all the instrumentation, Synchronise all the instruments with the GPS (cameras, tablet, researchers’ personal watches), Replace anything needed (batteries, cleaning tools, …), Backup the data from the week on the relative external hard drive, Decide the sighting shifts for the day, taking into account the cooking shifts, Turn on the computer, open Logger software and the GPS – verify that the GPS is correctly transmitting to Logger, Bring the spare binoculars to the sighting point ....


The waters off the Island of Ischia offer a unique opportunity for the study of cetaceans. Since 1991, the presence of seven different Mediterranean cetacean species has been recorded.
The study area is well known for its important pelagic biodiversity. The region was described as a feeding ground for fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), feeding and breeding ground for striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba), Risso's dolphins (Grampus griseus), bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus). At last, the area has been listed in the IUCN Cetacean Action Plan – www.redlist.org - as critical habitat for the endangered short beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). Occasionally pilot whales (Globicephala melas) are also encountered.
Since 1997 the research focused on the area of the canyon of Cuma, a deep submarine system of canyons located north to the island. Submarine canyons play and important role in biologic events and they are often areas of high biodiversity for their oceanographic characteristics.
The presence in this relatively small area of seven different species gives to the project a unique occasion to study and compare the behavioural ecology of the different species. Main goal of the project is the conservation of the habitat used by whales and dolphins, habitat which is always more corrupted and threatened by human activities.
The study produced in the years a relevant amount of data that contributed to the establishment of the Marine Protected Area “Regno di Nettuno” (Neptune’s Kingdom) around the islands of Ischia, Procida and Vivara. ODO succeeded in the inclusion of part of the canyon of Cuma (Zone D) in the boundaries of MPA.
Any economic support to the project comes exclusively from participants at the summer courses, private sponsors and foundations. Thanks to the participation of many volunteers who choose to spend their holidays collaborating to the project, it has been possible to go on in our effort until today.
The research program of Ischia Dolphin Project is focused on the communities of cetaceans that can be encountered in a coastal area included between the latitudes 40°55’ N and 40°00’ N. This region covers about 35 Km2 between the islands of Ischia, Procida and Ventotene and the Italian mainland.
Data is collected following an interdisciplinary approach and applying different methods in order to describe the different aspects of cetaceans’ life. The aims of the project can be summarised as follows:
- estimate the degree of residency of cetaceans around Ischia;
- estimate populations size and trend;
- examine the social structure of the different populations;
- examine habitat use and distribution;
- estimate the impact of both fishery operations and vessel traffic;
- describe the acoustic repertoire of the different species.

ODO is the outcome of the fusion of two different Italian associations – Oceanomare and Delphis MDC – that had both successfully led research projects and conservation activities on cetaceans in the Mediterranean Sea.
Oceanomare Delphis Onlus advances the science and practice of conserving cetaceans and marine biological diversity, implementing non-invasive studies, promoting education and conservation programs and enhancing public awareness of, and concern for, cetaceans and the marine environment.
Oceanomare Delphis Onlus research team gathers data on behavioural ecology and acoustics of cetaceans. Currently, available databases hold information on their distribution, movements in the environment, groups’ sizes and compositions, behaviours and acoustics data.
Oceanomare Delphis Onlus publishes its findings in national and international scientific journals, congresses papers, specialised periodicals, and delivers technical-scientific reports commissioned by international associations including Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Oceancare, Humane Society International and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Since 1991, Oceanomare Delphis Onlus organises and supports Ischia Dolphin Project (field research programme) engaging numerous students and volunteers every year, who participate in the field research camp activities on board the laboratory vessel and thus contribute to the knowledge of the distribution and ecology of these animals.
The study produced in the years a relevant amount of data that contributed to the establishment of the Marine Protected Area “Regno di Nettuno” (Neptune’s Kingdom) of the islands of Ischia, Procida and Vivara. Oceanomare Delphis Onlus succeeded in the insertion in the MPA of part of the canyon of Cuma.
The coastal the waters of Ischia and Ventotene and the Campanian and Pontino archipelagos were recently recognised as Important Marine Mammals Areas (IMMAs), by the IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force.
Oceanomare Delphis Onlus receives financial support for its activities entirely through the participation to its field research camps, from companies, associations, charities, foundations, private individuals and public institutions.


What are you waiting for?

We at Oceanomare Delphis Onlus would love to hear from you!