Late last week, after catching 3 planes, 2 buses, and a ferry in-between, I arrived on the island of Lošinj, Croatia. While the trip was tiresome and a bit stressful at times, it was well worth it.
I am living in Mali Lošinj (pictured below), but I commute everyday with my flatmates to work at the Blue World Institute of Marine Research and Conservation in the nearby town of Veli Lošinj. The other interns, volunteers, and I are assisting with the ongoing Adriatic Dolphin Project, which focuses on the conservation of the local bottlenose dolphins. As a PitE major who is interested in both marine life and conservation, it feels right up my alley.
Throughout the first week, we primarily worked on dolphin identification and data collection. The identification is done by looking at pictures of the dolphins’ dorsal fins, which are taken from the research boat during encounters with the animals. The dorsal fins are unique to each individual, much like human fingerprints. Once we can figure out how many individuals were photographed during each sighting, we look through a frustratingly enormous master catalogue and try to figure out which individuals specifically were sighted.
The data collection is a bit more interesting. We board a small boat in Veli Lošinj and head out onto the Adriatic Sea, where we look for bottlenose dolphins to observe and study. When/if we do come across any dolphins, we pinpoint their coordinates, write down their behaviors, and photograph them. Going out to collect data can be a bit exhausting, especially when we spend a long time out at sea, but it is always very exciting to see the dolphins out in the wild.
Although the first week seemed to fly by, I already feel like I have learned a lot about both the area and the work that my organization does. Let’s see what next week brings!