DOLPHIN RESEARCH COURSES

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Since 2003, Morigenos has been organising yearly Dolphin Research Courses, where anyone can become a member of the research team and help study dolphins in their natural environment.

The waters off the coast of Slovenia and the entire Gulf of Trieste are home to a resident population of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).

The research carried out by Morigenos over the past 15 years has shown that about 150 dolphins live here year-round. Moreover, they display remarkable social behaviour that was previously unknown in this species.

If you like being outdoors and near the water, if you want to be part of a positive change, if you appreciate nature and wildlife, and if want to take active part in studying and protecting it, then this course just might be something for you!

THE FACTS

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CONTRIBUTION

€ 488 (students)
€ 732 (non students)
* Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs.
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DURATION

10 days
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LOCATION

Piran, Slovenia, Europe

Lead scientists

Tilen Genov
Ana Hace
Jan Lesjak
Tina Centrih

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COURSE OVERVIEW

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Morigenos – Slovenian Marine Mammal Society aims at combining scientific research, education, public awareness, capacity building and management, to achieve effective conservation of the marine environment.

Since 2002, we have been carrying out a long-term research, monitoring and conservation programme, focusing on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Gulf of Trieste and western Istria in the northern Adriatic Sea. Back then, virtually nothing was known about dolphins in this part of the Adriatic.

Today, we know a great deal about this population, as can be seen from our SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS. But much more needs to be done. We need you to help us move the science forward!

Each day, you’ll head out to sea to search for these charismatic marine mammals. You’ll record their movements, behaviour and environmental data, and learn about dolphin research techniques including photo-identification, land-based work, boat-based surveys and behavioural observations. You will also collect information on loggerhead sea turtles spotted in the field – the area is an important foraging ground for the species.

Your participation directly supports the ongoing long-term research and conservation of dolphins and marine ecosystems in the northern Adriatic Sea.

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DATES & PRICE

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TEAM

DATE

DURATION

CONTRIBUTION

STATUS

 
1Jun 11 - Jun 20, 201810 days€488 (students)
€732 (non students)
Full
2Jun 25 - Jul 4, 201810 days€488 (students)
€732 (non students)
Full
3Jul 9 - Jul 18, 201810 days€488 (students)
€732 (non students)
Full
4Jul 23 - Aug 1, 201810 days€488 (students)
€732 (non students)
Spaces AvailableJoin
5Aug 6 - Aug 15, 201810 days€488 (students)
€732 (non students)
Full
6Aug 20 - Aug 29, 201810 days€488 (students)
€732 (non students)
Spaces AvailableJoin
7Sep 3 - Sep 12, 201810 days€488 (students)
€732 (non students)
Spaces AvailableJoin

* VAT included in the price

DISCOUNT

We offer all our returning participants (those that have already participated in our research courses) a 10 % discount! We look forward to having you with us again! If you book two courses in a row, we offer a 10 % discount for the second course.

Price includes:

  • accommodation at the research base;
  • all meals and soft drinks (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks);
  • water and electricity;
  • fieldwork;
  • lectures, guidance and training;
  • scientific supervision;
  • visits of natural monuments and other sites;
  • visit to the Aquarium Piran;
  • personal insurance;
  • certificate of attendance.

Price does not include:

  • Travel costs of participants are not included in the fee. You need to make your own travel arrangements to get to us and from us.
  • Potential personal expenses: restaurants, bars, souvenirs, alcoholic drinks.
WHO CAN PARTICIPATE

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AGE
16+
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NATIONALITY

Any
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CONDITIONS
Able to swim
Moderate physical condition
Able to tolerate the summer heat
Have a positive attitude towards the environment
Speak English or Slovene

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DAILY LIFE IN THE FIELD

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Each morning, the research team will head out to sea to search for dolphins. We will do this in two groups: one team will head out on the boat, and the other will go to an land observation point. Both groups will search for dolphins, observe them and collect data. In the early afternoon, we head back to the research base to have lunch and rest. In the afternoon, the two teams will swap.

You will take part in:

Surveying for dolphins and sea turtles. Everyone participates in scanning the sea for animals.

Observing dolphins and recording their behaviour. When dolphins are spotted, we will document their position, group size, behaviour and the presence of calves.

Collecting environmental data. At regular intervals we record variables such as water temperature and clarity, sea state, and GPS location, as well as presence of other wildlife such as seabirds, tuna, etc.

Photo-identifying individual dolphins. Back in the research base, we will examine photographs of dolphins, so that we can identify individuals using the markings on their dorsal fins.

Entering data. We will also enter the data we collect into a database.

You may also have the chance to help rescue stranded or injured sea turtles that have become entangled in fishing nets. Our research team has become well known in the area, and are now often the first call many people make when they spot marine animals in distress.

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ABOUT THE RESEARCH AREA

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Our research base is located in Piran, a beautiful small town on the shore of southwestern Slovenia. Situated on a peninsula, Piran is literally surrounded by sea. It boasts some of the best-preserved Medieval and Renaissance architecture in Europe. On clear days you can see the Alps. When not in the field, you can enjoy many restaurants and caffes along shore, or take a swim in the warm sea.

Slovenia is known for its natural beauty, including dramatic alpine peaks and cliffs that overlook the sea. Hiking, diving, biking, rafting, and swimming in the Adriatic sea or the clear lakes and rivers are popular pastimes. There are many natural caves that visitors can explore on foot, lots of forests as well as castles and monasteries founded nearly 1,000 years ago. In Piran, for instance, you can take in the views and the impressive vaulted ceilings of the hilltop Cathedral of St. George, which dates from the mid-1300s. There are also several protected areas known for great bird watching.

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THE SCIENTISTS

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Tilen Genov
Morigenos president & Science Coordinator
Ana Hace
Research Course Leader & Principal Field Researcher
Jan Lesjak
Principal Land-based Survey Researcher
Tina Centrih
Researcher

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ACCOMMODATION AND GROUP LIVING

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Accommodation is provided at Morigenos research base in Piran. This is where we sleep, eat, cook and work.

Rooms are shared with other participants, private rooms are not available. Bed sheets are provided.

Life athmosphere at the research base in relaxed and informal. Everyone shares daily household duties such as cooking and cleaning.

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MORE ABOUT THE COURSE

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Each day may be different from the rest, much depends on the weather. If the sea is calm and there is no rain, we head out to sea in search of dolphins in the morning. One team will head out on the boat, and the other will go to an land observation point. Both groups will search for dolphins, observe them and collect data. In the early afternoon, we head back to the research base to have lunch and rest. In the afternoon, the two teams will swap. This way you will get to experience different approaches to studying dolphins in the wild.

If the sea is not calm, we do not search for dolphins, as waves make it very difficult to find them. Furthermore, the accuracy of the data collected in such conditions is reduced. In such case we can focus on other work, data analysis, or just head out to the beach, where we can enjoy swimming, socializing over a drink or exploring the coastline.


BOAT SURVEYS

Boat surveys are conducted using a 5.8 m research boat. When in search, the entire crew participates in visually scanning the sea surface. Navigation and environmental data are collected during the survey. The boat will be handled by qualified personnel with all the necessary permits and extensive boating experience.

LAND-BASED SURVEYS

Land-based surveys are carried out from vantage point on land, using both regular and highly powerful binoculars.

SIGHTINGS

If dolphins are sighted at sea, the boat will approach the animals and start the focal group follow. The boat may stay with the animals up to several hours, depending on the number of dolphins in the group, their behaviour, weather conditions or other circumstances. Time, GPS position and other data will be recorded at regular intervals. Morigenos researchers will be in charge of handling the boat, photo-identification and the general coordination of work. The participants will help observing and counting the animals, observing behaviour and recording data (e.g. group size, behaviour, dive times, etc.).

If dolphins are sighted from land, the research team will follow their movements using binoculars and record their group size, behaviour, etc. The land team will also guide the research boat to the dolphins, so that photo-identification and other data can be collected.

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BEHAVIOURAL OBSERVATIONS

If conditions allow it, dolphin behaviour is systematically recorded throughout the sighting, at regular intervals. Information such as group size and composition, presence of calves, dive times and potential interactions with fisheries are recorded, regardless of whether observations are done from a boat or from land.

PHOTO-IDENTIFICATION

Photo-identification is the central method used in this study. Individual dolphins are recognised by natural markings, such as scars, nicks and notches on dorsal fins. When a group of dolphins is located, the aim is to get a fin shot of every member in the group. This method is non-invasive and can provide information on many aspects of dolphin biology and ecology.

While the photo-ID will be carried by a Morigenos researcher, everyone on the boat helps with tracking the animals, noting their relative position and keeping track of already identified individuals.

Depending on weather, field conditions, presence of animals and other circumstances, participants may help with analysing photo-ID data, identifiying dolphins and entering data at the research base.

LECTURES AND TRAINING

The lead scientists will hold several lectures and presentations on the biology and ecology of marine mammals, research methodology and issues in marine conservation. The research base also holds a large amount of scientific literature, which the participants are welcome to use.

OTHER ACTIVITIES

During off-time and bad weather, we may visit several museums, nature parks or other interesting places along the Slovenian coast. Each day will depend on the weather and other circumstances.

In the evenings there will be time to rest, socialise or experience the rich cultural and entertainment programme of Piran and Portorož.

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BOOKING

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Booking is done through e-mail pr@morigenos.org. For more information call +386 31 77 10 77.

The booking is temporary and should be confirmed with a payment of the participation fee. The payment can be made in one or two instalments. The first payment (half of the participation fee) needs to be made within 10 days after the initial registration. During this time nobody can take your place. If you do not confirm your booking by payment in due time, your place can be taken by someone else. The second payment has to be made at least 30 days prior to the chosen camp. If this is not done, it will be considered as a cancellation. In that case, someone else can fill in that place.

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The payment can be done through our PayPal account:

PayPal

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or the bank account of Morigenos:

IBAN account number: SI56 6100 0000 2549 604
SWIFT (BIC): HDELSI22

Bank:
Delavska hranilnica d.d., Ljubljana
Miklošičeva 5
SI-1000 Ljubljana
Slovenia (EU)
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Please note that any potential additional bank expenses should be covered by participants.

The number of places is limited, therefore we advise you to register on time.

APPLICATION FORM AND ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Detailed information about research camps, advice, contact details and application form can be found in the PDF file below. Please read the information carefully before applying. For any additional questions send us an e-mail or call us.

Application form and information for participants:

DOWNLOAD PDF

WE LOOK FORWARD TO MEETING YOU!

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REVIEWS

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DOLPHIN RESEARCH COURSES Overall rating: ★★★★★ 4.7 based on 9 reviews
5 1

My expedition with Morigenos was amazing

★★★★★
5 5 1
From start to finish, my expedition with Morigenos was amazing, and the people were so welcoming. Every minute was filled with fun things to do, good food to eat, dolphins to see and places to visit. I loved feeling a part of real scientific research, and it is also a great way to make new friends. The trip demonstrated to me the paradoxical power and fragility of nature and why it is so important we must preserve it.

Respected research team

★★★★★
5 5 1
An opportunity to participate in a long standing research project with researchers who publish their findings. The volunteers contribute to all aspects of the research, from the invigorating rides out on the boat to track down dolphins sited from the shore to learning abut fin identification and participating in data entry. It is situated in a delightful, historic town with opportunities to swim and enjoy the local bars and restaurants.The team are supportive and encouraging.

Close encounters with dolphins

★★★★☆
4 5 1
This expedition changed the way I viewed sea mammals. We came into close daily contact with specific, named dolphins (identified via the markings on their dorsal fin) and it was eye opening to not see them as a random anonymized creature but as specific named individuals who had made the bay their home. We would track their progress daily, and observe their social interactions with other named individuals, investigating their social web and culture. You could see their practice of following fishing trawlers, and how they played and associated with each other.

Tracking Dolphins in the Adriatic Sea

★★★★★
5 5 1
I have done seven or eight Earthwatch expeditions and enjoyed each one. Spending ten days in Slovenia tracking dolphins was a great experience. We saw dolphins (and a few sea turtles too) nearly every day. We worked hard but the three researchers worked even harder. Their passion for dolphins and environment was inspiring. Piran is a lovely small town and I would love to go back for a vacation. We often went out for ice cream or coffee at the end of the day and enjoyed the conversations with the researchers and people from the community. It was also interesting to see how the community had embraced the dolphin research project.

Sublime setting, August 2016

★★★★★
5 5 1
Data collection is highly dependant on the sea-state and this expedition provides an insight into the realities of marine research. However gorgeous Piran offers a wide range of educational opportunities and the team leaders adapt the activities, making each day worthwhile as well as fun. Be prepared for close living with 3 or 4 to a bedroom. Highly recommended.

Hide and seek with dolphins

★★★★☆
4 5 1
The work done by the team is not just having fun watching the dolphins. They live, work and play dolphins and the dolphins shape their whole life. It was special feeling that these animals that we were watching had names and personalities that were known and it was great seeing them with newborn calves, just like watching the children grow up. The work involves someone being out on the tower at 8am in the morning to start watching. If dolphins are spotted, a boat team is sent out while the tower team continue to observe and record everything. Sometimes a second sighting is made while the boat team are out trying to record the first so the tower team keep track until the boat team can move on. It was good to see the strength of local contacts, once dolphins were sighted, phone calls would start coming in from friends, fishermen, police, all to report the sighting in case it had been missed. It was so pleasing to see how everyone was involved and especially to see the fishermen being on side as where I live, the fishermen just want to kill anything that gets in their way. It was hard to learn of all the threats that there are to the dolphins but good that the team made us so aware of all the difficulties. The reference catalogue of dolphins that has been set up by the team and other catalogues set up by other organizations is proving very useful in being able to track the movements of some of the dolphins.

High Action Data Capture

★★★★★
5 5 1
It was joyful ! The research shifted my paradigm about what it really means to be a marine biologist as well as the concept of what a dolphin actually is. I thought I knew a lot about dolphins before the expedition and I was intrigued to have my knowledge and understanding greatly expanded. This is no theme park of dancing dolphins - the multi dimensional and multi variate marine world that these dolphins inhabit in the Adriatic demanded, if you wanted to locate them, that we not only think like a dolphin , but also like a fish , like a local person , and incredibly also like how an individual dolphin might react or think in given environmental conditions...and wow when the Dolphins did emerge it was high action data capture and an amazing feeling of connection with Dolphins, so well known by the researchers.

Excellent New Expedition

★★★★★
5 5 1
I really enjoyed the opportunity to be out on the water for part of each day, in the very capable hands of Ana Hace. Her professionalism and preparedness to share her knowledge of, and empathy for dolphins and the environment was excellent. It was also great to observe the level of respect between Ana and the local fishermen in regard to locating dolphins. What was also an added bonus was the opportunity to actually work on the morning of the last day, for those who had no travel time commitments. Working in the bell tower on dolphin lookout duty was a terrific opportunity to interact with the continuous flow of tourists with whom we could interact and publicise the project in particular and Earthwatch in general. Then there is the glorious setting of Piran and the Adriatic!!

Wonderful Experience

★★★★★
5 5 1
I just returned from this wonderful expedition in Piran, Slovenia and can't say enough about the trip. Piran is a special town, with friendly people and lovely sea-side restaurants and bars. We could enjoy a chilled glass of prosecco or beer after a stint in tower observation or out at sea. While there, the town was enjoying an international music festival, which made for special evenings in the square. The staff are warm, fun-loving, and dedicated to their project. I learned a great deal about cetaceans and why their health is such a critical indicator for overall ocean health. Even days where we didn't have a dolphin sighting were educational. I recommend this project to anyone.
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