Marine Mammals Research Expedition

Marine Mammals Research Expedition

From the Southern Adriatic to the Eastern Mediterranean


Marine Mammals Research Association ( is offering you the unique opportunity to join its Marine Wildlife Research Expedition where you will be part of a ground breaking research effort with various public awareness campaigns, from promoting citizen science activities to capacity building workshops. With human demands on our planet growing exponentially, never has it been so important to understand and protect marine biodiversity. The expedition aim to explore areas where there is little known. The expert team of researchers will be introducing you to the wonder of marine mammals, their main threats and the possible ways to contribute to protecting their vulnerable world. You will be given the chance to experience unforgettable close encounters with these magnificent creatures, and learn the essential role they play in our oceans. Moreover, as an active part of our research team, you will join our scientific data collection process through visual sightings, live genetic samplings and hydrophone and drone recordings.

                                                                                                  Expedition Goal

The Mediterranean Sea is a biodiversity hotspot; however much of it is unexplored with heavy human foot prints from to the coast to its deep waters. This region is historically and presently a world tourist attraction with a high human density in its coastal zones. Human influences derive from expanding agriculture and industry sectors, an extensive maritime highway causing noise pollution, and rigorous fishing activity depleting natural resources. Other threats contributing to severe habitat degradation include chemical pollution, marine debris, and climate change.

Due to a lack of scientific research, there are little to no conservation measures in action to protect Mediterranean waters and their inhabitants. All of the aforementioned species and subspecies are categorized by the IUCN Red List as Threatened or Data Deficient. It is therefore vital to research and monitor these populations in order to work towards necessary conservation measures. For this reason, our pioneering expedition aims to fill the knowledge gaps on marine top predators through integrating hi-tech research with conservation actions.


The expedition covers the coastal and offshore waters of South Adriatic to the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, while sailing on Chance Discovery, a Discovery 55 world class ocean going cruising yacht. The tour will be started in Montenegro and end in Turkey. However it will be split into 2 main studies; South Adriatic and East Mediterranean. Overall the tour will take 6 weeks but it will be divided into one week sections for participants to join us on-board.

Species to Encounter

On this trip we are likely to encounter a variety of marine mammals, including the common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus), sperm whale (Physeter microcephalus), Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) and fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), in addition to the Mediterranean’s only pinniped species, the endangered Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus). Moreover, as our study areas are largely unexplored, there is the potential to discover other cetacean species which are rarely found in the Mediterranean basin such as Humpback Whales (Megaptera novaeangliae)!


The Skills You Will Learn;

  • Conducting visual and acoustic surveys
  • Collecting behavioural data for sighted species
  • Mapping the hotspots of marine mammals
  • Developing the first photo Identification catalogues of the southern Adriatic and Eastern Mediterranean
  • Organizing marine debris surveys
  • Carrying out the first live genetic sampling of beaked whales in the Eastern Mediterranean waters.
  • Raising public awareness through promoting citizen science activities
  • Participating capacity building workshops on acoustic, behaviour, genetic samplings (only in Turkey).

One of the objectives of our expedition is to help create and inspire independent researchers, equipped with experience in up-to-date research techniques.

The Training You Will Receive;

There will be a day of training before the survey route starts. Additionally, each night we will organize a training on the below topics;

  • General biology and ecology of marine megafauna of the Mediterranean Sea
  • Species identification
  • Photo identification techniques
  • Mapping techniques
  • Behavioural sampling
  • Marine debris sampling

Additionally, we will be equipped with drone, a hydrophone (underwater microphone) and a genetic sampling dart gun. We will use this equipment when possible during our cetacean sightings, and you will have the opportunity to learn more about them and hopefully a chance to use them yourself!


The Expedition Calendar

You can join us for one or more weeks of the trip. There are 4 available spaces per week. You should arrive at the marina the evening before the start date of each period, before 20:00. The first day of each period will be a training day for the safety measures in the boat and the detail explanation of our expedition.

Study 1-South Adriatic:

We will depart from Tivat, Montenegro and travel southwards down the Adriatic and Ionian Seas, through the Corinth Canal and into the Saronic Gulf. From here we will explore the waters surrounding the Greek islands of the Southern Aegean before continuing on to dock in Turkey.

Study 2-Eastern Mediterranean Sea:

As we leave the Greek territory and enter the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, the expedition evolves into transect based surveys between Rhodes, Greece and Antalya, Turkey. This section is part of a year round study and will be conducted in four legs, one in each season in order to attain a greater understanding of seasonal change in marine biodiversity.

Expedition Calendar

Study 1

Period Departure / Arrival Dates Route
A 30.04.18 or 01.05.18* / 02.05.18 to 07.05.18* Tivat, Montenegro → Corfu, Greece
B 08.05.18 / 14.05.18 Corfu → Athens, Greece
C 16.05.18 / 22.05.18 Athens → Iraklion, Crete, Greece
D 24.05.18 / 30.05.18 Iraklion, Crete → Fethiye, Turkey

* Depends on participants’ choice of route

Study 2

Season Period A Period B
Spring Third week of March Fourth week of March
Summer Third week of June Fourth week of June
Autumn Third week of September Fourth week of September
Winter Third week of December Fourth week of December

Note: The exact routes can be subject to change to take into account weather and other safety factors.

As such, flights should not be booked until these dates have been confirmed, unless they are fully flexible tickets.

The cost

As we are a non-profit organisation with limited financial resources there is a monitory fee attached to this journey. The weekly cost per person is €2,000 per person based on a shared cabin.

This cost includes:

  • Full survey and equipment training
  • Use of research equipment
  • All food, drink and accommodation on board for the duration of your stay
  • All safety equipment
  • All cruising and sailing vignettes (cruising permits) for Montenegro, Greece and Turkey.
  • Yacht insurance including public liability coverage

What is not included?

  • Flights to and from start and end location
  • Travel insurance (Mandatory, please provide proof)
  • Food off board
  • WiFi (There may be WIFI on board occasionally through a booster, however WIFI and phone service cannot be guaranteed on route)

What you should bring:

  • Passport with any necessary visas for the countries you will be visiting
  • Sleeping bag
  • Towel
  • Binoculars
  • Seasonal appropriate clothing, including waterproofs
  • SOFT BAG as luggage, hard cases are not permitted on board
  • Camera
  • Eco friendly biodegradable toiletries
  • Shoes – must be clean (no sand/grit), and no black soles. Sailing shoes are preferable.
  • Sea sickness medication

Who are we looking for??

We are looking for enthusiastic and passionate team members with the willingness to learn, as well as motivated students and researchers who wish to collect data for their university projects.


  • A strong passion for marine mammals, and a desire to protect the Mediterranean marine environment
  • Excellent team work and communication skills
  • Fluency in English
  • The ability to live and work long hours on a boat in all weathers for consecutive days
  • Willingness to help with the ongoing duties on-board including cleaning, maintenance, sailing, and cooking.
  • A positive and proactive attitude

To apply send us your CV and cover letter to: or before December 31st 2017.