Spanish Mediterranean


Monitoring whales, dolphins and turtles… and the threats they face

Join the crew of the 1910 research ship Toftevaag and embark on a marine expedition destined to monitoring the Western Mediterranean’s iconic species such as dolphins and turtles, as well as learn as much as possible first-hand about the threats that they face like ghost fishing and plastic pollution.

This is a truly immersive experience: you will live and work on board the ship for eleven days, often spending hours or even some days and nights on the open water, sailing over important marine areas such as seamounts or canyons which are prime feeding habitats for species such as sperm whales or loggerhead turtles.

The marine species studied by Alnitak are legally protected by EU legislation as well as numerous other multilateral agreements, but there are major knowledge gaps plus a need to monitor management strategies. Even Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are only pieces of paper unless effective measures are in place, and these measures are constantly revised and improvements are proposed based on data that teams such as Alnitak collect.

In 2021, our expeditions will take us from the Balearic Islands all the way to mainland Spain and back again, passing through crucial areas such as the Whale Migration Corridor SPAMI (Specially Protected Area of Mediterranean Importance) and NATURA2000 (EU designated) network areas that are key to western Mediterranean species and ecosystems.

Our projects on board range from our MEDTOP – Animal Oceanographers program which aims at using telemetry to learn about sea turtle ecology and surveying other top pelagic species, to MED GHOST FADs which will collect data to create models of dangerous ghost gear “production sites” as well as where there may be a higher concentration of them in the open sea. Having this knowledge both on pelagic species and their threats will allow us to inform policy makers and reach out to stakeholders to try to find real-life solutions on a large scale.

Alnitak’s successful citizen science program has seen over 3000 volunteers, scientists and collaborators from over 90 nations come on board the ship and be a part of the quest for marine conservation that began in 1989. In 2021, you can add your contribution to this ongoing mission.


Endeavour for the protection of dolphins, whales and sea turtles

OceanCare endeavours to improve the management and conservation status of dolphins, whales and sea turtles in the Mediterranean and therefore cooperates with Spanish partner organisation Alnitak’s programs.

This 2021, OceanCare and Alnitak are looking for volunteer research assistants who wish to participate in research and conservation while embarking on an unforgettable voyage.


Dates and Cost Participation

Living and conducting research aboard a marvelous old, yet newly refurbished sailing ship
Course language: English as a first language, Spanish as a second

Programme info & booking