Cetacean and Marine Fauna research

Delfini del Ponente is currently looking for and accepting interns to join our 
pilot project on bottlenose dolphins in the Westerns Ligurian Sea, Imperia 
(Italy) in April or May.

The project

The dolphin research project “Delfini del Ponente” is the first project focused 
on monitoring bottlenose dolphins in the Western Ligurian Sea. Due to the 
morphology of the seafloor, this area is not a usual habitat for this species 
and historically, sightings have a been rarer and more sporadic than in the 
Levantine side of the region. The continental shelf is, in fact, very short and 
high depths (around 2000 m) are reached quite close to the shore making the 
area suitable for other cetacean species but not for bottlenose dolphins, which 
tend to remain in waters with a depth not exceeding 200 m.

Despite this knowledge of the range of the species, an interesting change has 
been noted in recent years in the area, where sightings of bottlenose dolphins 
have almost tripled. For this reason, Costa Balenae started in 2018 the project 
Delfini del Ponente to monitor bottlenose dolphins in the region to understand 
the extent of this change and what drove it. The project is structured on an 
annual basis, to obtain data not only on the distribution during the Summer, 
but also changes during the different seasons. The project is already providing 
very interesting information about bottlenose dolphins  and their distribution 
in the study area, and also about the seasonal presence of other marine fauna 
such as Mediterranean shearwaters (Puffinus yelkouan), Scopoli’s shearwaters 
(Calonectris diomedea), Northern gannets (Morus bassanus), Sandwich terns ( 
Thalasseus sandvicensis), sunfish (Mola mola) among others.

WHERE: Imperia, Italy

WHEN: 1 April-30 May 2020;

Minimum required: 30 days

Number of interns for month: 2 /3


  *    boat-based surveys monitoring the presence and distribution of 
bottlenose dolphins
  *    data collection of other cetaceans, fishes, seabirds, turtles
  *    classwork, database updating
  *    photo-id matching and analysis
  *    land-based surveys /opportunistic surveys
  *    lessons and training about cetacean ecology, biology and research 


This is a great opportunity to get involved in cetacean research, encounter 
marine biodiversity while gaining fieldwork experience, travel and explore the 
beautiful Liguria region and support cetacean research and conservation.

Surveys will be made in coastal waters onboard a dedicated zodiac (6 m 
inflatable boat) around 10 times per month.  Training will focus on collecting 
photo for photo-ID purposes, environmental, marine traffic, geographical (GPS) 
and dolphins' behavioural data. Land-based surveys will be done In Imperia, in 
2 different points around 10-12 times/month collecting data on the 
presence/absence of dolphins, fishing boats and marine birds. Surveys are 
weather dependent, and their number can change each month.

Office work (6 hours per day) includes training, lessons, photo-id work, 
transcription of data, data entry, QGIS work etc.

Interns will be involved 5 days a week, 6-8 hours/day (depending on fieldwork 
or lab work)
During free time, interns will have the opportunity to experience all sorts of 
activities: swimming, diving, hiking, exploring historical sites, visit 
museums, sailing.


  *   Minimum age of 18
  *   Prior experience in cetaceans or boat-based surveys is not required, but 
  *   Degree or on-going studies in biology, natural science, veterinary or 
similar (preferred)
  *   Strong motivation and interest in cetaceans and research
  *   Speak, read and write in fluent English
  *   Be adaptable as fieldwork is weather dependent
  *   Be willing to spend many hours on a small zodiac (5-6 m) and under the sun
  *   Be sociable as they are expected to live and work in an international team

Internship fee

Delfini del Ponente is a self-funded research project, so participation in this 
programme requires a tuition fee. Fee includes the accommodation in an 
apartment in Imperia, tuition and all associated field costs during the 
internship period (use of research vessel, training, use of equipment, field 
trips). Transportation expenses to and from Imperia (Italy), own insurances and 
food costs during the stay are not included in the fee.

How to apply:

Send your CV with a letter of interest to<>  before 16th of 

For any further enquiries and details, please send an email to<>

Davide Ascheri and Elena Fontanesi
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