By Guest Blogger Angie Raab
Step on Jean Gab, a cutter built in 1930, and dive into the blue world of whales and dolphins!
The first time I decided to do just that was in 2009- a daytrip with a wonderful crew and a handful of nice volunteers. We encountered a large pod of striped dolphins and I was instantly hooked!
Since then I have ended up on that boat almost every summer as a volunteer; part of an exciting adventure, not as a tourist, but as a crew member, navigating the beautiful Italian Island of Ischia.
Not only have I learned from marine biologists about the different species swimming in the blue waters off the Italian coast, and their different behaviors, I have also learned how to monitor the waters for a blow or white capped waves that could be porpoising dolphins!
Trust me, once staring into the big blue, you’ll start seeing all kinds of interesting things. They may be only waves at first, but once you realize that the white cap is a jumping dolphin- the action starts!
Long quiet sunny days, mingled with sheer excitement and hectic running and yelling while observing the dolphins and their behavior. Whenever there is wind, the engine is shut off and the sails are set! Want to steer? Most welcome- the only advice you’ll be given is “Feel the wind”…I did manage more than once to stay on track although I still have yet to really feel the wind! Maybe one day.
Species in the waters off Ischia are the playful striped dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, Sperm whale, Finwhale, manta rays, mola mola, swordfish and tuna!
And you’ll see most of them in the week spent on the boat…striped dolphins are a joy, and Berta, the boss (a rather opinionated little dog- but the best dolphin finder on this planet), usually finds them before we do!
Fishing for Tuna is a favorite pastime. I cant remember if we ever have been successful- you know, the biggest ones pass the boat and somehow just ignore the hook dangling in front on them- but then again, they are to beautiful to be eaten anyway…(and not too healthy either with being so high up the food chain).
The main focus of the project is on the sperm whale- we have been encountering them on a regular bases and they have been giving us beautiful memories- playing, feeding, clicking and coming really close while watching us, watching them!
The evenings are spent either visiting the island of Ischia, shopping or celebrating sea life and exciting encounters on board, singing into the early morning hours and keeping everyone up in the harbor…when you go take a shower and listen to someone next to you whistling the same song you have been playing just an hour ago at two o’clock in the morning, you know you have been successful!
Once in a while overnight stays on the island of Ventotene are a given. Pristine waters, island life and starry nights are the ingredients for unforgettable memories!
And of course dolphins, dolphins and more dolphins!
The project runs annually from mid May to mid October with biologists who are monitoring the marine protected areas surrounding the islands Ischia and Ventotene!
Sleeping on board is part of the adventure but of course there is always the option in staying at the partner hotel with breathtaking views of the harbor, Naples and the volcano.
Day trips are possible! Click here to learn more about the project and apply yourself.