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Tethys Research Institute | Whale & Dolphin Watching

A sailing boat-based cetacean research and conservation programme in the Cetacean Sanctuary, Western Mediterranean, to study ecology and beahviour of fin whales, sperm whales, Risso's dolphins and striped dolphins.

Since 1990, this whale and dolphin volunteer programme has been dedicated to investigating the spatial distribution, habitat preferences, ecology and behaviour of cetaceans living in the Pelagos Sanctuary - a special marine protected area extending between Italy and France. By volunteering on this programme you will contribute towards this vital research and help to protect some spectacular species. The research focuses on beautiful large-fin whales, sperm whales, Risso's dolphins, pilot whales, and striped and bottlenose dolphins. This is conducted by field techniques, which include individual photo-identification, remote tracking, distance sampling and behavioural sampling. To provide a scientific basis for management recommendations to the policy makers, the final goal of the Cetacean Sanctuary Research project in the area is to gain a basic understanding of this complex ecosystem. Intense research activities conducted in this region have also been raising remarkable public awareness. The project works in collaboration and within the legal framework of the UNEP's Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area."


May • June • July • August • September


Vessel types

Live-aboard boat

Times and prices

Cruises last 6 days. Weekly prices ranging from Euro 779 to Euro 960 per week dependent on the season (taxes included).Possibility to spend on board more than one week.

Student discount available and possible ECTS. Transport to and from the field base not included. 2012 season start on May 14th and ends on September 30th.

About our skippers and naturalist guides

You will be trained through specific lectures and work side-by-side with professional researchers. During your time you will be asked to contribute to the data collection and analysis (e.g. recording cetaceans number and behaviour at regular intervals, preliminary analysis of cetaceans digital photos, etc).


Access to wheelhouse • Deck with 360?vision • Hands-on materials (bones, shells etc) • Naturalist guide(s) as well as skipper • On board hydrophone • On board video • Onboard research • Public participation in research • Reading material available • Restrooms / toilets on board • Snacks / drinks • Support conservation • Swim / snorkel included • Use a code of conduct

We frequently

Listen to whales and dolphins • See a whale's tail • See leaping dolphins • Watch whales and dolphins

Baleen Whales

Fin Whale

Toothed Whales

Long-finned Pilot Whale • Sperm Whale

Beaked Whales

Cuvier's Beaked Whale

Ocean Dolphins

Bottlenose Dolphin • Risso's Dolphin • Striped Dolphin

Other wildlife and points of interest

In addition to cetaceans, the Pelagos Sanctuary is home to many other marine species, which can be sighted on a daily basis: a number of fish species, invertebrates, sea turtles and seabirds.

Harbour of Portosole, Sanremo
Town / City
San Remo
State / County
Zip / Postcode
One of my better times!
Traveled: 2010-08-23, Reviewed: 2012-05-05
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
In August 2010 I was a volunteer on the boat of Tethys in the Ligurian Sea. It was my second experience as volunteer in an organization as Tethys, but it was my first one to living in a boat. It was amazing, for the people I met, for the encounters we did: we saw dolphins, a fin whale, a sperm whale, a turtle, a moon fish...what a marvelous creatures and how magnificent is our sea!
We were involved in every step of the data collection and we learned plenty of things about the cetacean, thanks to the researchers of Tethys, that were always available for any our questions.
Thanks to the staff of Tethys and thanks to the people I met on the boat, it was one of the better times of my life.
Join in!
I had a whale of time
Traveled: 2008-08-14, Reviewed: 2012-05-01
Safe approach to whales / dolphins
Valuable learning experience
Trip meets expectations
Minimal impact on the marine environment
Own research / support for conservation
A few years ago I joined Tethys's project in the Ligurian Sea and I met my first whales. It was amazing to discover that the Mediterranean Sea is reach in whales and dolphins and how fragile the entire ecosystem is.
We had a great week, navigating through the coastal zone and the deep sea. We even had time for some deep blue swims! The project staff was all competent and happy to involve the eco-volunteers in all the data collection phases. This is a research project there for you are even more happy to fund it and support its activities.
It's Italy, food it's excellent, everybody is cheerful, and there is an international pod of eco-volunteers that makes everything exciting.
I totally recommend the experience!
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2013 Responsible Whale Watch Partnership:Click here to read more about the partnership