Oceanomare Delphis Onlus (ODO) is a nonprofit organization established to study and preserve cetaceans, as well as the ecosystems they inhabit, through the use of knowledge, conservation, and awareness.
Participants live on board of the research vessel Jean Gab. We preferably navigate under sail. During your stay with us, your days will be almost entirely dedicated to the research activities. All participants will take part in the fieldwork. Each day, apart from the arrival and departure days, will be spent at sea. Survey tracks are laid out to provide a roughly even coverage of the study area, but this might be adapted according to the weather conditions. Participants will be asked to help researchers in the collection of data and sailing activities.
Participants will watch until dolphins/whales are sighted, rotating with the researchers in shifts of one hour each during the whole navigation period. 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 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.
Inside the boat is a wide kitchen with a table and large windows. We cook and store food there, and when raining, eat our meals there. It can also be used as a little living room.
The sleeping room is for six participants of both sexes. There are two single bunks and two double bunks. In August, when we are busiest, you may be asked to share a double bunk with another participant of the same sex.
Next to the sleeping room there is a small changing room; a men's and a women's toilet; a room and a bathroom reserved for the skipper; and on the bow, a cabin with two (three with a child) sleeping places and independent entrance. There is a sun-powered shower onboard, but for a hot shower we use the toilets at the local port free of charge.
At the centre of the vessel, underneath the mast, there is an external 'lounge' area with a table. Lunches and dinners are served here.
Depending on the period, the cost is $950 to $1070 for one week. A second week discount puts the costs at $880 to $998.
Included in the fee: accommodation; electricity, water, and gas; port fees and petrol; scientific supervision and lectures on cetaceans by the researchers; certificate of participation; insurance.
Food and drink is divided among crew consumption, but is usually around $10 per head.
The project will consider applications of reduced fees for students.
We wish to remind you that life onboard sailing vessels like Jean Gab is a choice -- it is a simple, communal, and eco-compatible lifestyle that conserves 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. Each watching shift will give you the possibility to taste the peace of sailing.
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.
Staff jobs include:
- Checking all instrumentation.
- Synchronising the instruments with the GPS (cameras, tablet, personal watches).
- Replacing anything needed (batteries, cleaning tools…).
- Backing-up the data from the week on the relative external hard drive.
- Deciding the sighting shifts for the day, taking into account the cooking shifts.
- Turning on the computer, opening Logger software and the GPS, and verifying that the GPS is correctly transmitting to Logger.
- Bringing the spare binoculars to the sighting point.
The waters off of 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 is a feeding ground fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), and a feeding and breeding ground for striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba), Risso's dolphins (Grampus griseus), bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), and sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus). The area has been listed in the IUCN Cetacean Action Plan as a critical habitat for the endangered short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). Occasionally pilot whales (Globicephala melas) are also encountered there.
Since 1997, our research team has focused on the area of the canyon of Cuma, a deep submarine system located north of the island. Submarine canyons play an important part in biological events, and are often in areas of high biodiversity due to their oceanographic characteristics. Their presence in this relatively small area of seven different species gives the project the opportunity to study and compare the behavioural ecology of the different species. The main goal of the project is the conservation of the habitat used by whales and dolphins, a habitat which is corrupted and threatened by human activities. The study has produced a large amount of relevant data that has contributed to the establishment of the marine protected area 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.
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.
- 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 successfully led research projects and conservation activities on cetaceans in the Mediterranean sea.
ODO 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 cetaceans and the marine environment. Our research team gather data on behavioural ecology and the acoustics of cetaceans. Currently, available databases hold information on their distribution, movements in the environment, group sizes and compositions, behaviours, and acoustics data.
We publish our findings in national and international scientific journals, congress papers, and specialised periodicals. We also deliver technical scientific reports commissioned by international associations, including the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Oceancare, Human Society International, and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Since 1991, Oceanomare Delphis Onlus has organised and supported the Ischia Dolphin Project, a field research programme which engages with numerous students and volunteers each year. Participants do field research camp activities on board the laboratory vessel, thus contributing to the knowledge of the distribution and ecology of these animals. This study has produced a large amount of relevant data, which has contributed to the establishment of the marine protected area 'Regno di Nettuno' (Neptune's Kingdom) in the islands Ischia, Procida, and Vivara. ODO has also succeeded in making part of the canyon of Cuma a marine protected area. The waters of Ischia and Ventotene and the Campanian and Pontino archipelagos were recently recognised as Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs) by the IUCN Marine Mammal Protected Areas Task Force.
Oceanomare Delphis Onlus receives financial support for its activities through participation of its field research camps, from companies, associations, charities, foundations, private individuals, and public institutions.