Become a marine biologist and a sailor for 10 days!

Our mission, an intelligent science-based conservation of the Mediterranean Sea, requires all hands ondeck. This is why since 1989 the AlnitakResearch Institute has offered an award- winning volunteer experience on board research vessel Toftevaag. 

So far over 3800 volunteers of 98 nationalities have taken part and actively contributed to our projects. Will you be next? 

The plan is simple: hop on board, pick your bunk bed, and allow yourself to become immersed in our projects, living and working at sea alongside our dedicated crew. 

Be ready for early morning coffees, long days on the water, and sometimes even night-time navigation. But more important, be ready for adventure in the open waters of the Mediterranean as we survey its awesome wildlife, and the threats that these creatures face. 

Check out our video below, which gives an idea of what is done on board.

Toftevaag, our home and floating lab

Toftevaag, whose name translated as “The MeetingPlace” is no pleasure yatch, at least not in the normal way. Here, satisfaction is earned every day through actively making every moment count. 

On a normal day, everyone shares duties of all kinds: from household duties such as cookingand deck scrubbing (a clean ship is a happy ship!), to navigation and scientific data collection. This has been the Alnitak spirit for over 30 years, everyone working together for a common goal.

After only 9 days on board, we guarantee that we will release you back into civilisation as a true ambassador for the Oceans, having had a first- hand and hands-on experience contributing to our many on going projects.

If you ever wondered what it would be like to be a marine biologist or sailor on board a wooden ship, there is no better place than our ship.

Upcoming opportunities

This September 2021, we will mainly be sailing around the island of Menorca, focusing on the LIC Natura 2000 of Canal de Menorca, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve with a rich marine biodiversity. 

Setting sail from Mahón, the second largest natural harbour in the world (after Honolulu), the Toftevaag will cover the open waters around the island, actively searching for top pelagics such as dolphins, sperm whales, sea turtles and other marine wildlife. 

A current focus is also on monitoring and retrieving IUU (Ilegal, unreported and unregulated) fishing, and ghost gear, which pose an important threat to wildlife, responsible fisheries, tourism and more. 

There are still spots AVAILABLE to join us, and we will of course remain flexible due to the ongoing pandemic restrictions which are subject to changes. If you are interested, would like more information, or would simply like to get in touch, please click on the button below for options and a member of our team will reply when in port.

The Crew

Ric Sagarminaga
Alnitak co-founder, Chairman, programme manager and skipper of Toftevaag since 1989. Ric, who is an ASHOKA fellow, combines his passion for the conservation of maritime cultural heritage with the research of marine wildlife as umbrella species for ecosystem-based management of the oceans.
Alfredo Humanes Torres
Firstmate and surface cameraman on board the Toftevaag, Alfredo contributes to the team with a unique perspective of the importance of fighting for the conservation of our natural and cultural heritage.
Alex Sánchez Jones
Principal investigator and programme manager, his passion for marine wildlife and cetaceans in particular has seen him partake in stranding networks, research teams, and as a communicator on expeditions both in Europe and Africa, as well as guest speaker on cruise ships including Cunard Voyages.

Sergi Escandell

Sergi Escandell is an underwater cinematographer and producer for documentaries and feature films. His images have been broadcast on televisions around the world, including Arte France, Arte Germany, TVE, TV3, IB3, etc. Sergi has specialized in fast-action scenes. With a particular filming style based on long sequences with fluid tracking. He is a technical diving instructor, trimix diver, technical cave diver and an accomplished freediver.

Beat von Niederhaeusern
Beat has a versatile set of skills and takes care of different maintenance activities on-board the Toftevaag. He started out his career as a farmer and agricultural engineer in Switzerland and then worked in IT-engineering. As member of OceanCare, he has a great interest in the ocean and life in the ocean, as well as any conservation or ocean based activities.
Ignacio Liaño Arsuaga
Cetacean researcher of the University of Madrid, Ignacio came as a volunteer in 2019 and since then has become a vital part of the Toftevaag crew. This year he is completing his TFG (BSc dissertation) on behaviour and social lives of Risso's dolphins.

Arif Moure

Arif is passionate about the sea and marine wildlife, and has been an essential part of the crew for a few years. Always with a smile, he works as a carpenter, sailor, cook or whatever is necessary on board, but most importantly he is always open to learn new things about nature and the sea.

Alexander Plate

Passionate of nature, travelling and the study of humans.
Alexandre felt in love at first glance of Toftevaag for its peace and slow pace. Mixing his artistic taste, handcrafting and enthusiasm to keep in shape the Toftevaag, while keeping the crew laughing. Out of the boat he works as an art dealer, mediator, carpenter and dancer.

Paloma Carrasco
A new member for 2021, Paloma is an experienced sailor, Skipper of High Merchant Navy and photographer. She studied marine science and has a lot of experience with cetaceans. She has also worked in fishing ships as observer.

Become part of the crew!