Dolphin conservation volunteer
Mundo Azul invites you to be a dolphin conservation volunteer dedicating yourself to important life-impacting programs in Peru rather than booking another packaged holiday. Take part in exciting wildlife research on bottlenose dolphins along the Central Peruvian coast.
There are more than 30 species of whales and dolphins registered in Peruvian waters (approximately 37 % of the world’s cetacean species). The most common species to observe close to the coast are bottlenose dolphins. For a long time however there was nearly nothing known about the total population size of coastal bottlenose dolphins in Peru, their ecology and spatial distribution, as well as the levels of threats they are exposed to. All this however is baseline information which is crucial for conservation planning.
Mundo Azul therefore initiated in 2006 a unique and pioneering survey effort on bottlenose dolphins along the coast from Lima to Paracas (180 km) involving dolphin conservation volunteers. This is the first time somebody implements a detailed ecological photo-identification research program on a cetacean species in Peru. This pioneering research did already reveal some amazing facts:
Peru counts with one of the world’s highest coastal bottlenose dolphin density.
In our research area we identified so far 1512 individual dolphins with more than 600 of them being resident in the area. That means as a dolphin conservation volunteer you will see guaranteed every day lots of dolphins during your marine surveys.
We could identify the environmental characteristics and locations of important feeding areas and get an important inside into the life cycles and habits of the dolphins.
All the pictures of this slide show have been taken during our volunteer research trips (and they are not digitally manipulated)
As a dolphin conservation volunteer you will meet dolphins every day when out on the ocean. Some dolphins do closely approach the research boat. Apart of bottlenose dolphins you will be able to observe dusky dolphins, a great number of marine birds, penguins and sea lions.
Finally dolphin conservation volunteers are actively engaged in marine wildlife rescue activities freeing animals being accidentally caught in fishing nets and registering bird and mammal bycatch.
As a dolphin conservation volunteer, you will form an integral part of our research team, daily leaving port at Pucusana on Mundo Azul´s research vessel to collect important information on the dolphin populations’ distribution area, their behavior and interactions.
Project skills required from dolphin conservation volunteers
Participation as a dolphin conservation volunteer in the dolphin photo-identification project requires no specialized skill-set. You will be oriented and trained by our research team to participate fully in the project once you arrive at the study site. Although our field staff speaks English, a little Spanish is of course to your advantage in communications with local fishermen. The only skill we ask for from our dolphin conservation volunteers is patience, which is important while learning a new language and negotiating new and different local customs.
Our aim is to make sure future dolphin conservation volunteers are fully briefed, prepared and well-equipped before you go. Our pre-departure support and services program has been designed with you in mind. All aspects are constantly reviewed, updated and improved. Offering a comprehensive support structure will ensure peace of mind for you in the field, and for your family and friends back at home!
Our research programs are 100% volunteer financed. Wihout your support this research program is impossible.
Minimum donation to full-month programs:
High season (January): 3,534 $US
Low season (all other months): 3,380 $US
Minimum donation to two-weeks programs:
All months: 1,971 $US
Your donation and support as a dolphin conservation volunteer helps us to take care of:
Volunteer airport pick-up
Volunteer accommodation during entire program
Food and beverages
Road transport to research area
Volunteer life jacket
Waterproof raingear against water splashes and wind
12 marine survey days (full month program)
8 survey data evaluation days (full month program)
Full in-country support
National travel assistance and advice
100% of your donation supports the conservation goals of Mundo Azul.
In order for you to fully take part in our program we will:
- Provide you with detailed program information
- Train you in photo-identification methods
Each volunteer must cover the costs of:
Airfares, any alcoholic drinks, travel and medical insurance, visas, vaccination-related costs, any applicable airport taxes, any payment banking fees
Where does my money go?
Your donation helps us to covers three main areas;
- Volunteer accommodation and transportation, and the staffing of the volunteer activities
- A donation towards the direct expenses of the research
The administration is essential to the running of any project and ensure that you can find the project, you are well prepared for the trip, that you can have questions answered and the whole things works well.
Getting you safely to the project, ensuring you get fed, giving you a room at the project site and staffing the project is the other chunk of spending. This makes your experience enjoyable and ensures you work most effectively when you are at the project.
The remainder funds the direct expenses of the project, such as diesel for the boats, licenses and permits to sail, materials, and resources, which enable the project to function. Some of your money will also go to supporting the other activities Mundo Azul undertakes, such as undercover monitoring of food markets to try to eliminate the illegal sale of dolphin meat.
Accommodation of our dolphin conservation volunteers:
For most volunteer programmes our volunteers stay in the town of San Bartolo (about 20 minutes north of Pucusana). San Bartolo is a town of 2 faces – during the week it is a quiet, sleepy, typical Peruvian, small coastal town – but every weekend the town becomes a hub of activity as surfers arrive to enjoy the waves. There are a few basic, local restaurants, shops for all essentials, and a cash machine. Laundry can be arranged locally. The beach is excellent for water sports such as surfing or kayaking. With our associated travel operator Nature Expeditions you can arrange additional activities for your free days, such as sea kayaking tours, surfing courses, scuba diving trips and bird watching trips.
Our choice of Hostel accommodation is dependent on volunteer numbers, however each room is usually equipped with kitchen facilities and private bathroom. Volunteers will usually share a room with one other volunteer. The concept of a “twin room” is not common in Peru so a double bed is the norm however an additional mattress can always be obtained ! Rooms usually have cable TV.
Please note – Internet / Wifi access can be limited in San Bartolo - there is an internet café in Pucusana.
Dolphin conservation program dates:
Mundo Azul is implementing regularly marine surveys, observing local dolphin populations. You can take part in full-months programs or two-weeks programs. The next program dates for our full months marine surveys are:
Full month: Start date: 05.01.; end of program: 02.02.
2 weeks A: Start date: 05.01.; end of program: 19.01.
2 weeks B: Start date: 19.01.; end of program: 02.02.
Full month: Start date: 05.05.; end of program: 02.06.
2 weeks A: Start date: 05.05.; end of program: 19.05.
2 weeks B: Start date: 19.05.; end of program: 02.06.
Full month: Start date: 28.06.; end of program: 26.07.
2 weeks A: Start date: 28.06.; end of program: 12.07.
2 weeks B: Start date: 12.07.: end of program: 26.07.
Full month: Start date: 05.08.; end of program: 02.09.
2 weeks A: Start date: 05.08.; end of program: 19.08.
2 weeks B: Start date: 19.08.; end of program: 02.09.
Full month: Start date 05.11.; end of program: 03.12.
2 weeks A: Start date 05.11.; end of program: 19.11.
2 weeks B: Start date 19.11.; end of program: 03.12.
2 weeks: Start date: 02.12.; end of program: 16.12.
If you want to take part in one of our dolphin volunteer programs – please write us and specify the exact program (in what month, 4 weeks or two weeks, start date,…)
Pre-Departure Support and Services
In-Depth personalized information: After receipt of your on-line application, you will be contacted by our staff and receive in-depth information on all aspects of the program including detailed travel logistics, what to bring, health and safety tips, a ecosystem, language, and culture tutorial, strategies to support your dolphin conservation volunteer work, and a list of recommend readings.
Mundo Azuls web-site is a wonderful resource!! It keeps changing so keep logged on for up-to-date project information.
Full in-country support: Upon arriving in Lima you will be met at the airport and accompanied to your hostel by one of our representatives. You will travel with the research team to the study site !!
National travel assistance and advice through our partnership with Peruvian eco-tourism operator Nature Expeditions, who can also help our dolphin conservation volunteers organizing travel to other destinations in case you want to extend your stay in Peru.
Questions? Mundo Azul has a great team of professionals who are eager to answer any questions you may have about your volunteer program. Feel free to contact us at any time.
Health and Safety
Your health and safety is of primary importance to us!! As part of their pre-departure training, all our dolphin conservation volunteers receive in-depth information on health and safety issues. Mundo Azul offers you the safest way to volunteer in Peru.
While being a dolphin conservation volunteer in our out-door programs you will be in wilderness areas, at sea or under water, and the program thus carries a necessary risk factor. It is important to us that our future dolphin conservation volunteers are aware of the risks involved and make an informed decision on participation.
For your safety, we require that dolphin conservation volunteers have appropriate medical coverage in case of emergency. We also recommend that you refresh your first aid knowledge, and visit your personal physician or a travel health clinic 4-8 weeks before departure to make sure that your vaccinations are up-to-date.
While operating at sea dolphin conservation volunteers will be equipped with life-jacket and our research personal knows the Peruvian coast very well. The Peruvian sea is not known for storms. Nevertheless you will operate all day in a small boat. We therefore do not recommend participating in this program if you are susceptible to sea sickness or unable to swim or if you have back problems.
During summer months from December to March skies are mostly permanently blue and without clouds. Therefore sun-exposure at sea is quite high. We recommend using sun-block with the highest level of sun protection possible (45+).
During the winter months from June to August temperatures are still at around 16 degrees of Celsius but humidity does make this temperature quite uncomfortable. The Peruvian sea will be many times covered in fog in the morning that later on clears up and gives way to a grey sky and rarely blue sky at around noon time. All marine dolphin conservation volunteer programs are equally possible under this weather conditions but we recommend bringing warm and waterproof clothing.
NOTE: This project is unsuitable for people with a bad back, or those susceptible to sea sickness, as the boat trips are fast and furious, over bumpy Pacific waves. Large distances are covered in a short time, in order to encounter as many dolphins as possible in one trip.
More detailed information on climatic conditions, equipment to bring, and health and safety tips will be sent to you as part of your pre-departure training.
How to take part?
Its easy to get into the field as a dolphin conservation volunteer: Write us now
Mundo Azul staff will get in touch with you via email to confirm receipt of your application form and confirm if space is available in the dolphin conservation volunteer program for the date you have chosen. We will provide full details of payment options and ask you to deposit 50 percent of the donation.
While preparing for your trip, you will receive in-depth information on all aspects of the program including detailed travel logistics, what to bring, health and safety tips, and a list of recommend readings. Our staff is always available to answer any questions you may have.
You will make your final project payment upon arrival in Lima, where you will be met at the airport and given the full support of our staff during your volunteer work.
Please note that the program may be booked for up for some time in advance. We advise you to write us as soon as possible to secure your place.
ITINERARY – 4 weeks
Day 1 – Pick-up from Lima Jorge Chavez airport (LIM); transfer to hotel.
6 dolphin research trips to Asia Island
6 dolphin research trips to Pachacamac Island
8 computer – data evaluation days
8 free days
Day 28 – transfer back to Lima Jorge Chavez Airport (LIM)
ITINERARY – 2 weeks
Day 1 – Pick-up from Lima Jorge Chavez airport (LIM); transfer to hotel.
6 dolphin research trips
4 computer – data evaluation days
4 free days
Day 14 – transfer back to Lima Jorge Chavez Airport (LIM).
Note : The exact structure of the programme will depend on the conditions at sea.
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Page author: Stefan Austermühle
Mundo Azul – Calle Enrique del Horme 214 – Miraflores, Lima
Phone: 0051-1-99410 4206
Peru is a fascinating country bordering Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile and the Pacific Ocean. It comprises three distinct regions, the wide Andean mountains, a long, narrow desert strip bordering the Pacific Ocean, and the deep Amazon rainforest.
Peru is renowned as the land of the Incas, but many other great pre-Columbian civilizations flourished here. Visitors can see the ancient Inca capital of Cusco and explore the breathtaking lost Inca city of Machu Picchu as well as visit extraordinary ruins from a variety of other cultures, including the Nazca and the Moche. Peru is a country that you will never forget!