My experience @ DMAD

My first real field experience in Marine/Conservation Biology

My name is Aditya Swami, and I had long since known that my true passion lies in protecting our oceans and the animals within. Having completed my Bachelor of Science in Zoology, I decided to take a gap year to gain some practical knowledge through field experience. I found a posting for Scientific Research Intern from DMAD marine mammals research association on the Erasmus intern website late one night and ever since then I have thanked all the stars for that decision.

I’m going to be honest; I was extremely homesick for the first few days in Montenegro. So much so, that with every second passing I wished I was back home in India. But my very first moment working with everyone at DMAD changed everything. With DMAD, it never felt as though I was truly at work. Well, that’s misleading. We did do quite a bit of work around the clock, but it never really felt like a stereotypical job. It was fun, it was breezy, it was research-oriented and it was so, so self-fulfilling. That’s how I knew I was doing something I loved.

At DMAD we have 2 kinds of workdays, one is the classic office day and the other would be the survey days. The office days never felt strenuous because they were always filled with great camaraderie, laughter, joy and yes, primarily with research paper readings, GIS and Photo Identification lessons and consequent data analysis on these platforms. The survey days could be land-based or on exceptionally lucky days, boat-based. The land surveys are methodical, meticulous and well-planned, comprising of staring at different parts of the lush blue Adriatic Sea from a vantage point for 3 hours or more. The cherry on the icing of the cake; there are quite a few Bottlenose Dolphins to locate, photograph, research and enjoy. The boat surveys are even more magical. Being on the water for 4-5 hours experiencing the pleasure of researching the dolphins in their natural habitat is a feeling I cannot put into words. Although I had the opportunity of joining only the one boat survey, it was one of the best experiences of my life and I was immediately wanting more.

I could tell you so many reasons why you should take the leap of faith and pursue this internship with DMAD. Oh so many reasons. All the scenic and picturesque views of the Adriatic Sea, the wonderful research initiative, the actual research with the theodolite, GIS and Photo-ID, the intern house, all of these are so memorable. However one thing stands above all, unparalleled in my books. It’s the opportunity to have gotten to work, live and spend every moment with some of the most genuine and wonderful people I have ever had the privilege of meeting. People who genuinely care deeply about marine animals and the ocean. People who take on interns so often and train them all year round despite having so much on their plate. People who take the time to go out to local schools to reach out to impressionable youth about the troubles facing our oceans, to get them interested in marine conservation at a ripe young age. People who will make Montenegro your home for however long you are there.

That’s my experience with DMAD for you. It ended up being only a 2 month stay, but I wish every day that it could have been for longer.