Bottlenose dolphins monitoring and assessment of human interaction with dolphins

Project name:

Delfini del Ponente - Dolphin Research Project

Project purpose:

Research project aiming to assess the presence of bottlenose dolphins in the Western Ligurian Sea, using the technique of photo-identification. The project includes a field and a lab part, to learn both the data collection and their first management and analysis.

Project activities:

  • data collection/analysis

Weekly cost (approx USD):


Direct benefits you gain:

  • data/statistical skills

  • field research skills

  • gain a qualification and/or credit

Noteworthy conservation points:

  • contributes to environmental policy

  • publishes peer-reviewed science

  • publishes work

Wild Sun Rescue Center


Shared house

When does the project run?

March to October


accommodation included, cooking facilities, electricity, local shops, near-by medical, refillable drinking water, hot shower, western toilet. Delfini del Ponente is a self-funded research project, so participation in this programme requires a tuition fee, that will be discounted due to the late notice. Fee includes the accommodation in an apartment in Imperia, tuition and all associated field costs during the internship period (use of research vessel, training, use of equipment, field trips). Transportation expenses to and from Imperia (Italy), own insurances, and food costs during the stay are not included in the fee.

How long can I stay?

minimum 30 days


  • Minimum age of 18

  • Prior experience in cetaceans or boat-based surveys is not required, but preferred

  • Degree or on-going studies in biology, natural science, veterinary or similar (preferred)

  • Strong motivation and interest in cetaceans and research

  • Speak, read and write in fluent English

  • Be adaptable as fieldwork is weather dependent

  • Be prepared to spend many hours on a small zodiac (5-6 m) and under the sun

  • Be sociable and willing as they are expected to live and work in an international team

  • Boat driving licence or experience in handling small boats (preferred)

Details of the day-to-day life on the project:

TThe dolphin research project “Delfini del Ponente” is the first project focused on monitoring bottlenose dolphins in the Western Ligurian Sea. Due to the morphology of the seafloor, this area is not a usual habitat for this species and historically, sightings have a been more rare and sporadic than in the Levantine side of the region. The continental shelf is, in fact, very short and high depths (around 2000 m) are reached quite close to the shore making the area suitable for other cetacean species but not for bottlenose dolphins, which tend to remain in waters with a depth not exceeding 200 m. Despite this knowledge of the range of the species, an interesting change has been noted in recent years in the area. Reports of bottlenose dolphins by boats, fishermen and whale watching vessels are almost tripled compared to previous seasons. Therefore, the project aims to monitor bottlenose dolphins in the region to understand the extent of this change and what drove it. It is structured on an annual basis, in order to obtain data not only on the distribution during the summer, but also changes during the different seasons. The project needs a commitment of at least 30 days. Normally, we work 5 days a week, but it is needed a lot of flexibility since all the activities are weather dependent. Therefore, we might have an entire week of work before having 2 days off, or just an afternoon off during a very busy week. We go out at sea for collecting data on bottlenose dolphins about 10 times per month.


The price varies among the seasons.

Reviews & ratings



5 Oct 2021

Great experience

Great experience. I have learned a lot about wild animals and the bush. The kids are super. Thanks to Michele and Ian but also I would like to thanks all the volunteers and local people.


Daktari Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage



21 Mar 2020

Very Good Program

My week at Daktari was excellent and the program is very intense in the sense that we all get together with the kids and animals from 7am until 9 pm. It is an excellent choice for a first volunteering program abroad considering and I would definitely like to go back someday


Daktari Bush School & Wildlife Orphanage

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