Conservation and research volunteers are needed right now to help protect the last resident Bottlenose Dolphins in the north-eastern Adriatic Sea. Bottlenose Dolphins are at risk due to an increase in human activities. The global population trend of Bottlenose Dolphins is not completely understood, but the Mediterranean subpopulation is vulnerable and continues to decrease. Studies are showing that dolphin numbers in the Adriatic Sea have declined by more than fifty percent in the last five decades! This huge reduction in the dolphin population was caused in large part by planned killings that took place in the second half of the nineteenth century, when dolphins were perceived as pests. But further declines are a direct result of increased pressure from people. Deaths occur from fishing and the accidental trapping of dolphins in nets, loss of habitat quality, water pollution - especially plastics and heavy metals in the water, and rising underwater sound. But there is hope for these fascinating and intelligent animals.

volunteer team on a boat

Our partner in Croatia has come to the aid of the dolphins. This organization began as a collaboration between the Slovenian Museum of Natural History, local biologists and scientists from several international universities. Their main aim is to monitor the dolphins and use the information collected to form a baseline for conservation plans. The important scientific data that is collected means research teams can do more to protect these pods. Volunteers and marine biologist work side by side to observe the dolphins, and record their findings. By working closely with marine biologists, volunteers become “citizen scientists” directly involved with dolphin conservation.

Volunteers look for dolphins.

Volunteers look for dolphins.

Volunteer Activities

This 11 day placement is well structured. Each day begins with a group breakfast and briefing of the planned activities for the day. Mornings are spent analyzing new data. Volunteers help to check and enter data from the previous evening into the database and transcribe the notes made during the observation. The afternoon is spent in the boat watching the dolphin pods and recording the findings. The group stays with dolphins as long as possible, sometimes returning as late as 8.30 p.m. Education is an important part of the conservation work. Each year the organization and local community celebrates “Dolphin Day” which includes lectures, workshops and games. Volunteers help out with preparations for this event.   

One day of the trip will be a full day excursion to explore Istria, which is the beautiful peninsula where the organization is based. Another full day is dedicated to learning about marine mammals and in particular about the local Bottlenose Dolphin population.


You will be living in a volunteer apartment that you share with the other volunteers. All food is provided, but cooking and cleaning are shared responsibilities between team members. Bedding can be provided for an additional 5 Euros or you can bring your own. There is a washing machine on site available for volunteers to use (5 Euro per load).


Do you have questions about safety? We have answers right here!


Airport pick up and drop off (from Umag), accommodation, meals, on-site training, donation to Placement Partner, AEI Travel Manual, emergency support while at placement, carbon credits to offset 3 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions, premium Individual Travel Insurance (up to $500, 000 USD in emergency medical coverage), travel discounts (through automatic membership to a volunteer only travel discount program), 24/7 travel and emergency assistance, enrolment with the Global Travel Academy to earn a certificate in International Volunteering. This 3-hour online course is curated by travel professionals and is designed to help you get the most out of your adventure.


Flights, entry visa costs, international and domestic airport taxes, immunizations and medications.

casa de volunteers

What is Serious

This is an amazing opportunity to learn about the last remaining marine mammal population in the area, getting to know more about dolphin life, dolphin conservation and the North Adriatic marine ecosystem. You will be working closely with the marine biologists who will teach you how to distinguish one dolphin from the other and how to follow the population dynamics. This is a true “field placement” where you are doing actual research. You will be shown how to work with the data - collecting the data on the water, inputting it the office, and analyzing data from the previous day. If you have a strong interest in marine biology, you will really enjoy the many lectures offered about biology, data collection, wildlife and what to do in the unlikely event that a marine mammal is stranded on land. If you would like to learn more, the group would be pleased to provide you with more in-depth information about dolphin physiology and ethology - their natural behaviour. Your time at this placement will give you better insight into marine mammal science and can be a good ‘springboard’ for continuing your interest in this field when you are back home. As a volunteer you are of vital importance to the project, enabling the group to come closer in achieving the goal for conservation and greater awareness about these interesting and intelligent creatures.

What is Fun

What better place to volunteer with dolphins than in the Mediterranean! Enjoy the sun and crystal clear blue water, as you get to know your new friends and explore a different culture. Your stay in Croatia will be a nice balance between studying the dolphins and having time to relax and enjoy some leisure time. Observing the dolphins swimming near your boat each day is an exhilarating experience. After an afternoon on the water, the group always returns in an inspired mood, happy to be making a difference. To unwind you can choose to cook a healthy Mediterranean evening meal together or take some time for yourself. There is a good feeling of camaraderie. After dinner the group will often stay together and talk, play games or do something social. There will be time for you to go for a swim and snorkel, ride a bike along the nearby biking trails or explore the area.The coastline is beautiful and the inner area of Istria stunningly resembles Italian Tuscany. The dolphins, the people and the beauty of the country will ensure that you will never forget your adventure in Croatia, volunteering with dolphin conservation.

Dates and Details

This is an ongoing program with operations during spring and summer months. Programs are run on specific dates from April until October each year. 

volunteering with dolphins

Tentative 2019 dates:

6th MAY – 16th MAY
20th MAY – 30th MAY
3rd JUN – 13th JUN
20th JUN – 30th JUN    
4th JUL – 14th JUL 
18th JUL – 28th JUL
1st AUG – 11th AUG     
15th AUG – 25th AUG     
2nd SEP  - 12th SEP 
16th SEP  - 26th SEP 
30th SEP  - 10th OCT


Are you thinking of fundraising for a portion, or all your fees? Many of our clients have been very successful with their fundraising efforts. To learn more about their successful fundraising projects and see how you can fund raise for your experience, please visit our fundraising page!

This was a trip of a lifetime, one I will never forget and that’s not just because of the gelato!
— Jessica from Australia