Marine Mammal Research & Conservation – Internship in the Aegean Islands, Greece

Background: The Aegean Sea is one of most important marine biodiversity hotspots in the Mediterranean, supporting key populations of cetaceans (dolphins and whales), Mediterranean monk seals and sea turtles. Despite current protection afforded by national and international legislation, many of these species are listed as at risk, vulnerable or endangered by the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature), as they face increasing anthropogenic threats. It is an utmost priority to ensure the enforcement of this legislation to protect keystone species that are crucial to maintaining our marine ecosystems.

Description: The goal of the Archipelagos’ Marine Mammal Research Team is to monitor the regional status of marine mammal and sea turtle populations and their habitats in the Aegean, an area where data relating to these species is largely deficient. By gathering data on species populations and their respective threats, the research team works to fill these knowledge-gaps, identifying critical habitats that are especially susceptible to human and environmental impacts.

Our dedicated research vessels include: Aegean Explorer (22m motor boat), Naftilos (15m sailing boat), Pinelopi (16m sailing boat), Okeanos (12m motor boat) and Asterias (7m speedboat). Boat-based surveys, of varying length, are conducted all around the Eastern Aegean Sea (Dodecanese and Cyclades). On these vessels, interns are involved in a variety of ongoing research projects, including:

  • Cetacean presence, abundance, distribution and behavioural studies (BORIS software) through boat-based surveys.
  • Species movement, residency patterns and social structure using mark recapture photo-ID techniques.
  • Passive Acoustics Monitoring of cetacean species and anthropogenic noise, using a broadband towedHydrophone array (320m) and stationary hydrophone. PAMGuard and Raven Pro software are used for data analysis.
  • Presence, abundance, distribution and behavioural tendencies of Mediterranean monk seals and sea turtle species (Loggerhead and Green sea turtle).
  • Monitoring and assessing coastal and floating marine litter.
  • Monitoring and assessing seabird populations at sea.

Additional areas that interns can assist with are:

  • Response and sampling of stranded marine mammals and sea turtles.
  • Analysing microplastic content in marine animal digestive system.

These projects provide field-work and hands-on research opportunities for under-graduate and post-graduate students and for other early career researchers looking to gain field-research experience. Participants have the opportunity to collect data for producing a thesis and scientific publications. This internship provides skills and expertise valuable for a professional career in marine mammal research, marine conservation and environmental management.

Language requirements: 
Specific competences required : 
• At least one year of college or university studies in the fields of marine, ecological, environmental sciences and/or veterinary science. • Ability to work both independently and as part of a dynamic, multi-cultural, multidisciplinary team. • Excellent organizational and time-management skills. • Capacity for accurate and consistent data collection and analysis. • Ability to write scientific reports and papers. • Fluency in English. • Sincere desire to work towards Archipelagos’ conservation efforts. • Motivation to live in a small island community in simple facilities and to be adaptable to life onboard Archipelagos’ research vessels.
Safety issues: 
There is a written risk assessment that is been shared with the applicants
Accommodation possibilities : 
Dorm style accommodation
Additional costs to be covered by the student: 
Describe the additional costs to be covered by the student: 
Placement fees: Monthly fees of 650 euro cover: • Living expenses (shared accommodation, all meals, Wi-Fi) • Use of equipment & research boats • Transport for working purposes • Greek language lessons Students and recent graduates are advised to explore possible funding through their universities, by getting in touch with the Finance / International Relations / Placement/ Erasmus+ Offices at their Universities or other relevant grant providing organizations in their region. *Travelling costs are NOT included and are covered by the participant