The mission of Vivamar is to conserve and protect dolphins by first informing ourselves. Our team works together with volunteers from around the world to collect data about individual dolphins and their relationships, group sizes and their dynamics, and how and where they are interacting with other species and their environment. By collecting data and analyzing it year after year, we are able to pick up on patterns that, when compared to other scientific data such as ocean temperatures and salinity, fish availability, animal migrations, and changes in weather, reveal a map of a much larger scale indicating how so many species interact with and depend on each other. This map rarely gives us a straight answer of exactly which event causes exactly what effect. We’ve learned that nature is much more complicated than that, because in such a dynamic and complex network, there is hardly ever just one effect resulting from one action. This makes the comparison of information all the more important. Vivamar’s activities are focused on understanding all of these factors that influence our local dolphin population, and preserving the marine environment to benefit all marine zoo-biota for many generations to come.
Proper education and knowledge is critical for the sustainable development of the sea. The next aspect of our mission is to use our knowledge to motivate people near and far to actively cooperate and contribute to the noble task of protecting the Sea. We are accomplishing this mission by using our scientific findings to create an interdisciplinary, widespread and well connected network of relevant players. We do this by reaching out to the broader public and a variety of professionals involved in marine research, government and fishing regulations, animal rights, educators, and the list goes on. On summer days, you can find us by the Sea giving interactive presentations and workshops about our resident dolphins to children and other locals.
Our research extends from the area of the Slovenian sea (Slovenia), Trieste Gulf (Italy) and off West Istria (Croatia) in the northern most Adriatic Sea. The areas are contiguous and part of three different states. Our photo identification, the first of its kind for this part of the Adriatic Sea, indicates that dolphins are unperturbed by border patrol and frequent whichever waters they need in order to survive various ecological and anthropogenic pressures. Having the same animals in different countries points to the fact that this flagship species is an “Ambassador” of the same marine area, ‘uniting’ different states. When we disrupt the balance of the Sea in one area, it invariably disrupts the balance of surrounding areas as well, setting off a cascade of pressures that species must adapt to, or else perish.
You can get involved and become a Bottlenose Dolphin Research & Conservation Volunteers
Vivamar offers volunteer opportunities in the research activity of Bottlenose dolphins along the western coast off Zambratija, Croatia, in the heart of Europe. Teams are small (comprised only of 6 members) and can therefore offer intense connection between the team members and a dedicated researcher. The program comprises lectures on Marine Ecology, Marine Mammals of the Adriatic Sea, other large vertebrates in the Adriatic and their role for the Marine Ecosystem balance, daily research on the field, including learning of the methods, data analysis and possible engagement in Vivamar awareness activities to the local people. Interns will also learn how to prepare and deliver the key messages, which might remain as a good learning experience also for the everyday life and later for the employment. Watch the below movie or find out more HERE
What do previous volunteers have to say…. Testimonials
“I enjoyed my time with Vivamar in Croatia. Just going abroad is an excellent experience in itself let alone working with all of the wonderful people at Vivamar. Dolphins have always had a special place in my heart and seeing them in person in their natural habitat was amazing. I felt close to them and felt like the work I was doing with Vivamar was making a difference for the better. I enjoyed exploring the beautiful country of Croatia and getting to experience the local culture. The whole trip was eye opening and wonderful. These dolphins deserve all the help they can get.” Jenna B, student volunteer of environmental sciences, Sacramento, California
“I came to Vivamar for the first time in 2015 and ended up returning again in the same year as I could not get enough of the dolphins and the Vivamar experience! I continued to volunteer for Vivamar from home by helping out with social media and photo identification of the dolphins. I was lucky enough to return to Croatia this year for 2 months to research the impact of nautical tourism on the behaviour of the dolphins for my Marine Biology Bsc. Darja, the head researcher and founder of Vivamar, has been incredibly supportive of my research and has become a good friend as opposed to just a supervisor! The situation here with the boats is serious and I have often observed the dolphins completely surrounded by boats unable to escape. Therefore I really hope that my research can have a positive impact on this community. I hope to continue helping Vivamar in the future and would highly recommend the experience to anyone who wants to help these beautiful creatures!” Betty Boyse, Vivamar alumni, Marine Biology Bsc., University of Portsmouth, UK
“A great and memorable experience! The time I spent with Darja and the other volunteers was an experience I surely will never forget. You get a good insight into the life of the dolphins living in the adriatic sea and the threats that endanger them. This knowledge that we gained from the Vivamar Team we could apply directly on our trips on the research boat, while enjoying the sunset -and the dolphins of course- at the same time. On the days we didn’t visit the dolphins, Darja showed us a part of the scientific work of dolphin research which was very interesting. The atmosphere was relaxed the whole time, we all got along well. That’s why we also had a lot of fun during our free time which we spent snorkelling, laying at the beach and visiting some beautiful towns. I definitely recommend this volunteering project with Vivamar to anyone who is interested in helping the dolphins and keeping the sea healthy!” Isabel Wagener, Student from Siegburg, Germany
“After a short search on volunteer opportunities I became quickly aware of the Vivamar project, which was, in my opinion, a total jackpot. From the first day on I got the feeling I was into something important. From the little tasks like washing the dishes to gardening I was always feeling the spirit. We did good work on research comparing dolphin fins on the pictures we took. In our free time we enjoyed the underwater world of the Adriatic Sea, snorkelling for hours! Of course, the most beautiful time I spent here was when we went out on our boat trips to get new pictures of our lovely dolphins. I will always remember the first time when I saw a fin breaking through the surface of the sea and the joy I felt having a look into the eyes of an animal that is so intelligent and free!” Anja Sturzeis, Nurse at private clinic, Austria
“I have always been into the sea and dolphins so I was really excited when I found the project Vivamar. I went in contact with Darja and more and more I thought to volunteer in that project would be a good thing. When I had to choose what to do for my matura, final work at school I asked Darja if I could do it about dolphins and from what they are endangered and she agreed with it. By volunteering for dolphins I learned more about research work. But not only, I also had a good time during doing my work with the other volunteers. We went swimming in the sea, sunbathing at the beach or just drinking a beer and get to know each other better. But what’s best of all: you see dolphins in wildlife. It’s so great to see them swimming in the wide ocean free in their movements. I can’t believe people caught them and put them in an aquarium. I would recommend this project to everybody who wants to have a closer look at the researcher life and wants to do something good for the sea and its amazing inhabitants.” Sarah Volken, student, Switzerland
We hope to see you soon!