Research Camps

Since 2003, Morigenos has been organising yearly Dolphin Research Camps, where anyone can directly experience the research and conservation of dolphins and marine turtles.

Join us and visit the most northern part of both the Adriatic and the Mediterranean Sea. Actively participate in bottlenose dolphin research. Learn about dolphin research techniques including photo-identification, land-based work, boat-based surveys and behavioural observations. Observe dolphins, marine turtles and marine birds in their natural environment. Meet people from other parts of the world. And more.

PROJECT OVERVIEW

Morigenos aims at combining scientific research, education, public awareness, capacity building and management, to achieve effective conservation of the marine environment. Public awards, scientific publications and other parts of our track record indicate the quality of our work.

Slovenian Dolphin Project is a long-term research, monitoring and conservation programme, focusing on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Slovenian and adjacent waters. It is the first systematic and long-term study of any cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) in Slovenia, and the largest dolphin and turtle dataset in this part of the Adriatic.


Research activities aim to provide the scientific baseline for effective conservation of dolphins and their habitat, by monitoring their trends and identifying the main threats affecting the animals.


During the Summer Dolphin Research Camps, we will monitor the presence of dolphins in the study area and collect data on their movements, behaviour, interactions with fisheries and photo-identification. Daily surveys are conducted from boats and from land observation points. Apart from dolphin research, we also collect data on loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta).


DATES AND PRICE

Dates and fees will be known shortly.

Price includes:

  • accommodation at Morigenos research base;
  • all meals and soft drinks (breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks);
  • water and electricity;
  • fieldwork;
  • scientific 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, telephone, internet.

Discounts:

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


WHO CAN PARTICIPATE?

Anyone above 16 years of age can participate, regardless of nationality, education or previous experience. You need to be able to swim.
The number of participants is limited to 6 persons per stage. There is no selection – whoever applies first, gets the place.
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ACCOMMODATION

Accommodation is provided at the Morigenos research base. We sleep, eat, cook and do other stuff there. Fieldwork is done at sea (boat surveys) and at the coast (land watches).
You will have to share the room with other participants or team members. Private rooms are not available. Life atmosphere in the research base is relaxed and informal. This is not a hotel!
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WHY SHOULD YOU BE INTERESTED

This course enables you to experience day-to-day life of a dolphin researcher, as well as obtain background knowledge of marine mammal science, marine biology and conservation. All the necessary training is provided.

By the end of this course, you will:

    • have a better understanding of current issues in marine mammal and turtle conservation;
    • obtain an overview of different methods for studying marine mammals in the wild;
    • acquire practical experience of pleasures and frustrations of marine mammal field research.

  
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HOW DOES YOUR PARTICIPATION CONTRIBUTE TO DOLPHIN RESEARCH AND CONSERVATION

Morigenos carries out a long-term scientific investigation of dolphins and marine turtles in Slovenian and adjacent waters in the north Adriatic Sea, in order to inform conservation. The science produced by Morigenos is translated into conservation through education, public awareness, development of conservation plans and advice to policy makers.

By participating in this project, you are directly helping fund part of the research activities. Your participation fee is used to cover the field expenses. This would not be possible without your involvement. Additionally, by taking active part in the collection of data, you provide help to the research team in the field and thus becoming part of it. Your participation therefore directly contributes to research and conservation of dolphins and marine turtles in this region.


CONDITIONS FOR PARTICIPATION

The camp participant must:

  • be at least 16 years old;
  • be able to swim;
  • be in moderate physical condition and be able to tolerate summer heat (several hours on the boat or on land observation point);
  • be adaptable;
  • be prepared to work in a group;
  • have a positive and friendly attitude towards other living beings and the environment;
  • be able to speak English, Slovene or Croatian (either one of these three languages);
  • carefully read the information provided at the end of this page (Morigenos Info 2016 – PDF) and accept these terms;
  • fill in the application and the declaration (Morigenos Info 2016 – PDF).
DUTIES OF PARTICIPANTS

The participants share everyday duties and chores with Morigenos team members. This includes cooking, dish washing and house cleaning. Out in the field the participants help in search of dolphins, in observing the dolphins and in the collection of data. At the research base, the participants might help in data sorting and analysis.


WHAT WILL A DAY IN THE RESEARCH CAMP LOOK LIKE?

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. We do that in two ways: from a land observation point and by using a boat. During research camps, the fieldwork is therefore carried out in two teams, which take turns. One team carries out boat surveys, while the other performs land-based watches. This way the participants will experience different approaches to studying dolphins in the wild.

Boat surveys

Boat surveys are conducted using a 5.8 m boat. When in search, the research crew visually scans the sea surface. Navigation and environmental data are collected during the survey. The boat will be handled by qualified Morigenos team members or collaborators. They have all the necessary permits and have extensive boating experience.


Land-based watches

Land-based watches are conducted from a land observation point, using binoculars and a tracking device called theodolite. Environmental and boat traffic data are collected.

  
  

Sightings

If dolphins are sighted at sea, the boat approaches the animals and starts the focal group follow. The boat will stay with the animals for one or more hours, depending on the number of dolphins in the group, their behaviour, weather conditions or other circumstances. Time, GPS position and other data are 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 (time, position, number of animals, behaviour, identified individuals, etc.). Once the main tasks have been completed, the participants can take photos with their own cameras.

If dolphins are sighted from land, the research team will follow their movements through theodolite tracking.


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.


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.


When we return to the research base, we sort and store the collected data. If there is time, we analyse some of the data (photo-identification, for example). Other activities are carried out according to the plans and needs for that particular day.


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. Last but not least, surveying in a rough sea can be quite difficult. In such case we can focus on work, data analysis, or just head out to the beach, where we can enjoy swimming, playing beach volley, socializing and exploring the coastline.


Morigenos team members will hold several lectures and video presentations on the biology and ecology of whales and dolphins, research procedures, methods and conservation. Our research base also holds plenty of popular and scientific literature, where the participants can read more about whales and dolphins, sea and other interesting stuff. Morigenos team members will be happy to answer any questions.

We will visit several interesting places along the Slovenian coast. Each day will depend on the weather and other circumstances. In the evening there will be time to rest, party or to experience the night life of Portorož!


WHO WILL RUN THE RESEARCH CAMPS?

Research and other activities will be coordinated by a qualified Morigenos team, which has more than 10 years of experience in marine mammal research and organisation of research camps. Morigenos team members are actively involved in several internationally renowned organisations relevant to marine mammals and marine conservation, including the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO, European Cetacean Society, Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS), International Whaling Commission and the Sea Mammal Research Unit of the University of St Andrews.

One or two researchers will be in charge of fieldwork and general project coordination, while research assistants and project participants will help in all aspects of the project. Some team members may help occasionally or help coordinate activities from elsewhere.

CAN WE GUARANTEE YOU TO SEE DOLPHINS?

No. You will most likely see them, but nobody can truly guarantee it. We usually see dolphins several times during the 10-day period and we will do everything in our power to enable the participants as many sightings as possible. However, we ask you to be aware that these dolphins are wild, free-ranging animals. That is exactly what they should be. This means they are very unpredictable, they have a relatively large home range and they travel around a lot. Therefore we cannot (and do not want to either!) control their movements. Therefore we never know when or where we will encounter them. The search can last only a minute or several hours. Sometimes a day-long search can be unsuccessful. Sometimes we encounter dolphins on several days in a row, but on other occasions it might be impossible to find them for days. In a way, this is the beauty and magic of such work. That is why you need to be patient. Bad weather (rough sea, rain, bad visibility) can also restrict or prevent us from doing fieldwork and therefore reduce our chances to find dolphins. All of this is part of dolphin research. If you expect some sort of a tourist tour, where we would draw dolphins closer to our boat with some kind of a trick, then we would not advise you to participate in our camps. Morigenos team members will do everything they can to maximize your chances of seeing dolphins, but keep in mind that we cannot guarantee the presence of dolphins during the camps. We do not control the weather, nor the dolphins. This is a scientific research project, not a tourist dolphin-watching bussiness.

BOOKING

Booking is done through e-mail or telephone. 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 20 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.

The payment is done through 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)

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:

Morigenos Info 2016

WE LOOK FORWARD TO MEETING YOU!

Fotografije: Ana Hace, Ayşe Demirer, Bojan Breščanski, Donja Rashed, Gregor Kervina, Katherine Yates, Petra Grahek, Petra Miklavc, Rebecca Hayes Tieken, Sarah Lehmann, Sylvie Rimella, Špela Guštin, Tanja Trobentar, Teja Muha, Tilen Genov, Tina Centrih.