MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal

The "Northern Aegean Dolphin Project" is a work-for-a-cause research project on dolphin sightings, implemented by MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal.

It takes place every year in the wider area of the National Marine Park of Alonissos Northern Sporades(NMPANS, Greece) and involves daily field surveys at sea, collection of data, along with evening seminars.

MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal is a not-for-profit, non-governmental  environmental organisation, established in 1988. MOm's mission is "the protection of the marine and coastal environment, focusing on the critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal".

Due to its longlasting and important efforts on marine environment and species conservation, in 1996 MOm was accepted as a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). MOm, is also among the acknowledged research institutes in Greece, according to the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).

The "Northern Aegean Dolphin Project” is a dolphin monitoring research program designed and implemented by MOm. It is carried out from May till October, in the wider area of the National Marine Park of Alonissos Northern Sporades (NMPANS, Greece), which is currently one of the largest marine protected area in Europe (approximately 2.260 km^2), hosting various marine mammal species.

Dolphin sightings are common in the NMPANS. However, no systematic research efforts to study dolphins (and whales) have been carried out in the area so far. Research focusing on the local dolphin populations, the identification of important dolphin-congregation or passage areas and the compilation of a photo-identification catalogue of individuals/groups, will prove to be an invaluable asset, providing both better understanding of the precious ecosystem dynamics within the park and serving as a baseline to design and measure effective conservation strategies.

This project is an effort to learn more about dolphin populations and it involves daily field surveys at sea, collecting data and working side-by-side with the researchers of MOm, along with evening seminars, which will provide the participants with valuable experience and insight on Greece's precious marine ecosystem.

MOm’s researchers will present important research techniques and provide specific training on data collection and analysis. Evening seminars on marine mammal monitoring techniques, the life traits of local marine mammal species, and other topics related to the local environment.

MOm provides accommodation and basic food supplies for breakfast and lunch. With the conclusion of the project participants will be given a "certificate of attendance", one of MOm's t-shirts and some good quality photos.

It is stronly recommended to make a personal travel insurance, which will protect participants from various issues/problems that might occur, such as trip cancellation, medical expenses etc. MOm provides partial insurance only while participants are on board and only during the field expeditions.

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MOm/Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal Reviews

The wild dolphins of my heart!

Participating to the Northern Aegean Dolphin Project was an almost religious experience just by thinking that I may belong to the last generation that will be able to see dolphins free in their natural habitat. This was not the first time that I was working with MOm and I knew in advance the quality of their work.
In September 2013, I embarked on the “Odysseia” boat and the adventure around the National Marine Park of Alonnisos-Northern Sporades began.
For a whole week, we would record various and rare species of animals that shelter around the Marine Park, its islands and islets. During this time I was fortunate to come across with almost every species of dolphins that exist in the Mediterranean Sea. Lovely vegetarian food and a captain telling us stories on how a seaman’s life was in the past complimented our breaks.
After getting a special permission we had the chance to visit natural reserve areas and dive into crystal clear waters observing the sea-life at the sea bed in places where no human intervention existed.
In the evening we would attend seminars with the Marine Biologists of MOm at MOm's Information Center
After a long day of observation and seminars, the Greek night life followed which would include Greek restaurants with live music, concerts, traditional fiestas and bars. We would go out with the whole team for ouzo and ‘meze’ and then for dancing at the beach bars. Joining the project was a fantastic experience that I would definitely love to do again!!!

By: Alexandra
Nationality: Greek
Age: 27

An inspirational experience

This was such an important week for me working with the Northern Aegean Dolphin Project on Alonnisos! The experience was life changing, so beautiful and wonderful.
During the trip I had several conversations with the coordinator that opened my eyes to the possibilities of a future involving environmental study and marine biology!

By: Maddie
Nationality: American
Age: 16

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