Capacity building and education activities including lectures and direct involvement in field work and data analysis have benefited a large number of students, researchers and volunteers from around the world.
Since 1991, Tethys Research Institute has organised a series of courses on dolphin research and conservation opened to students and interested people to participate in the Ionian Dolphin Project. The courses were held on board sailing vessels between 1991 and 1994, and from 1996 at Tethys field stations situated along the Ionian Sea coast. From 2006, courses are organised in collaboration with the Earthwatch Institute.
A total of 1,082 volunteers from 40 nations, encompassing the five continents, have participated in these field courses.
Since 2001, Tethys also organised a series of capacity building initiatives aimed to develop expertise on cetacean research and conservation, and encourage collaboration among researchers and institutes working in the Mediterranean and Black Seas. Training courses organised at the IDP field stations alternated theoretical seminars with field data collection and practical experiences at sea. Participants were asked to engage in report writing, abstract writing, and preliminary data analysis. Practical work such as photo-identification at sea, matching, and behavioural data collection was included. By working side by side with Tethys researchers, participants acquired essential background for field studies and learned how to plan and develop their own research project, how to analyse the data, convey the results to colleagues and the general public, and ultimately contribute to dolphin conservation. These initiatives have included:
- 2001 – Training course on cetacean research and conservation for Israeli researchers;
- 2002-2003 – Individual capacity building on cetacean research and conservation for Bulgarian and Romanian researchers (in collaboration with ACCOBAMS);
- 2003 – Training course on photo-identification methods for Georgian, Russian and Ukrainian researchers (in collaboration with ACCOBAMS);
- 2004 – Training course on cetacean research methods and conservation strategies for Slovenian and Greek researchers (in collaboration with ACCOBAMS);
- 2005 – Training course on cetacean research methods and conservation strategies for Libyan and Lebanese researchers (in collaboration with ACCOBAMS);
- 2007-2011 – Training course for school teachers from Greece, UK and USA (in collaboration with the Earthwatch Institute).
- 2011 – Training course on photo-identification methods and dolphin-fisheries interactions monitoring for Egyptian researchers (in collaboration with WWF-MedPAN)
Lectures and presentations were given annually since 1997 to inform the local community about the work done by the IDP. A total of 2,720 individuals (age: 4-80 years) have attended public presentations given by Tethys personnel between 2004 and 2011. These presentations have been organized in collaboration with some schools around our study areas and in the context of “Dolphin Day” events organized, in collaboration with the Municipality of Vonitsa, Mytikas and Paleros.
Drawings made by local children following lectures at local schools, featuring dolphins and the threats that they are facing, were put on display and activities for local kids were organised, including body painting and games. Videos on cetaceans were displayed also including footage from the study area. Presentations were centred around the status of dolphins in Greece coastal waters. Beach-cleaning initiatives have been also organized in conjuction with local schools. Visit our Education Gallery.
The work conducted by Tethys in Greece has been featured in several popular articles published in European magazines. A large number of top-quality photographs and many hours of video footage were obtained and are routinely used for public awareness purposes. The research and conservation effort done in the context of the IDP for over two decades has also produced a large number of scientific papers and contributions in peer-reviewed journals and international conferences and meetings.