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Tethys Expedition
Ionian Dolphin Project


Vonitsa is a town located in the county of Etolia-Acarnania, in western Greece. Overlooking the Ambracian Gulf (Amvrakikos Kolpos), its population is of 12,000 inhabitants. The city is built near the ancient Anactorium, an important ancient city of Acarnania founded by the Corinthians in 630 before J.C., but which declined when Augustus founded Nicopolis on the other side of the Ambrakian Gulf after the Battle of Actium. It was under the Byzantines that the city was built on its present site under the name of Vonitsa. It became part of Greece in 1832 after the Greek War of Independence. The main attraction of the island is its castle built by 4 successive colonizers, the Normans, the Turks and then the Venetians and again the Turks and the Orthodox Christians.

In addition, opposite Vonitsa is the beautiful island of Nisos Koukouvitsa, which is connected to the coast by a small bridge and houses the chapel of Agios Nektarios.


This new proposal for a scientific expedition, an ecovolunteer week, is managed entirely by our partner "Tethys Research Institute" and its programme "Ionian Dolphin Project".


It differs in several ways from our other proposed expeditions:

  • No SCS guide on site

  • Return to land each evening

  • Overnight stays in a flat

  • Language spoken: English


SCS promotes these ecovolunteer weeks as a way to support the Ionian Dolphin Project and its scientific work on Mediterranean Monk Seals, Bottlenose Dolphins and Common Dolphins.


In the near future, the SCS hopes to be able to offer you "French language" weeks in this programme. Our scientific collaborator and coordinator of the Ionian Dolphin Project at the SCS, Lida Kypriotou, participated in a week of ecovolunteering in the Ionian Sea organised by the Tethys Research Institute. She remains at your disposal if you have any questions about this. (Write to Lida)


First day :

Meet at the port of the small town of Vonitsa (South of the Ambracic Gulf).

Meeting with Tethys researchers and other eco-volunteers

Installation at the apartment where you are going to spend the week.

Briefing on the IDP and the week's activities.

Friendly dinner, and rest in order to be in shape the next day.  

Program for the following 5 days:  

Sea trip (Ambracic Gulf or Ionian Sea) for 4-5 hours and collection of data on species of interest, according to Tethys research protocols. 

Light lunch, rest and analysis of the data collected during the morning outing. Presentations or trainings led by the Tethys team on research in marine biology, species conservation, current issues.

Already 7:00 p.m., and if you are the host of the evening, you will have to wear your apron and prepare a dinner of your choice for your teammates. Possibly, also do a little housecleaning! During this time, your colleagues of the week can discover Vonitsa, go swimming or be entertained as they wish.

After dinner, you can rest or have a drink in a bar by the water. If you are lucky you will see the harbor resident a cute and stylish Caretta caretta turtle!

Departure: the 7th day after breakfast.  


Research activities at sea: 

  • Identify animals of interest: bottlenose dolphin, common dolphin, monk seal, but also sea turtles, sea birds

  • Complete research forms with information on the location, behavioral characteristics, group structure of identified animals.

  • Help Tethys guides / researchers to collect data (photographic material, videos)

Research activities on land:

  • Insert data into databases

  • Sort and save photos taken at sea

  • Prepare photos for photo-identification

  • Photo-identification of observed individuals

Why to participate :

  • Work for 5 days with internationally renowned marine researchers

  • Get up close and personal with the dolphins and monk seals of Greece

  • Enjoy local cuisine and get to know a beautiful and little known region

  • Above all: Take an active part in the conservation of marine mammals of the Mediterranean sea!!


Detailed program

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Ionian Dolphin Project
Expedition Organiser 

For almost 30 years, the Tethys Research Institute has been active in the area of the Inner Ionian Sea and the Ambracian Gulf with the Ionian Dolphin Project (IDP), which aims to ensure the long-term conservation of marine mammals living in the coastal waters of the Eastern Ionian Sea. These include in particular: the Bottlenose Dolphin, the Short-beaked Common Dolphin and the Mediterranean Monk Seal (see Ionian Dolphin Project).

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