Coastal Dolphin Monitoring

Watching dolphins in the wild is a useful experience for both scientific and educational purposes. Joining the marine biologists of SEAME, participants can become researchers for a day, and be part of a real scientific survey on bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) inhabiting the coastal waters of the National Park of La Maddalena and the Strait of Bonifacio.

Boat survey will be carried out using a motor boat equipped with tools to search for dolphins at sea. Side by side with the researchers, you can watch bottlenose dolphins in their natural environment, discover their different behaviours and learn about the threats affecting them.

The presence of SEAME researchers onboard will make this experience both exciting and educational, allowing you to understand the importance of observing and respecting these animals free ranging in the wild.

At sea with researchers

Departure: after departure, an experienced researchers will introduce the biology and ecology of cetaceans, focusing on the coastal bottlenose dolphin features, habits and behaviour and other marine fauna inhabiting the coastal area of North Sardinia. Initially, participants will attend a short briefing on nautical and safety tasks onboard, then a training on sighting methods will increases the likelihood detecting dolphins.

Visual search: the first part of the monitoring is dedicated to the visual search of dolphins. Together, we will try to identify everything revealing the presence of dolphins on the sea surface. Learning the sighting methods allows participants to help monitoring, while increasing the likelihood of detecting cetaceans at sea, during the navigation.

Sighting: when a sighting will occur, we start collecting data on dive times and group composition, while preparing to take pictures for the photo-identification of individual bottlenose dolphins. Sometimes we already recognize them by the first shot!

La Maddalena Archipelago coastline: in the second part of the trip (about 1 hour) we will move towards one of the most characteristic sites of the coastline of La Maddalena Archipelago. We will stop for snorkelling (swimming with mask, flippers and snorkel), and SEAME marine biologists will guide participants to the discovery of the seabed and its creatures.

Acoustic experience: once back in port, on request, an experience named ‘Sound of the sea’ will take you into the world of underwater sounds, used by cetaceans to communicate, locate their prey and navigate through the ocean.

What are you waiting for? Join us and become a researcher for a day!

The date will be decided according to the forecast for sea and weather, so you need to book early your participation. Once an excursion is scheduled, you will be directly contacted for booking confirmation, 48 to 12 hours prior to the departure.

Duration of coastal monitoring excursion: 5-6 hours

Boat: inflatable boat

Departure time: variable (morning or afternoon) depending on the season (daylight hours available) and the sea and weather conditions. Participants will be notified accordingly.

Boarding location: port of La Maddalena or Palau

Tips and information

Consider bringing a wind stopper (preferably waterproof), hat for the sun, bathing suit, sunglasses and sunscreen lotion with SPF 30 or higher, your own camera and beach towel. Due to the limited space available on the boat, you can bring up to one bag per person.

Food and drinks are not included and participants should bring their own. We recommend at least 2 liters of water per person.

Participants should be in good physical condition, in order to tolerate prolonged exposure to sunrays and sitting in a boat for several hours. During the trip you can enjoy a swim, so we suggest you bring your mask, snorkel and flippers. Please, contact us for any other information on physical requirements and potential hazards.

Please, note that we are working with wild animals, so keep in mind that sightings are not guaranteed, and may occur only after a few hours of visual search or not occur at all.

Please note

  • Encountering animals may require time and patience, as bottlenose dolphins are wild, unpredictable and highly mobile;
  • each trip will be unique in terms of sightings and routes traveled, depending on several factors (including sea conditions and season);
  • we adhere to the ACCOBAMS International Code of Conduct, in order to minimize the disturbance to the animals;
  • the Coastal dolphin monitoring excursion will be held only with suitable sea and weather conditions (calm or nearly calm sea), due to the low probability of sighting dolphins when the sea is rough.