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ALNITAK is a Marine Research and Education Center dedicated to the conservation and protection of marine ecosystems. Through outreach, collaboration and research, we aim to create a strong partnership between the ocean and those living in or around it. Our surveys and discoveries contribute directly to the management and creation of Marine Protected Areas around the globe. 


Who we are

Alnitak is a marine research and education project founded in Spain in 1989. Our primary aim is the conservation of marine ecosystems and their habitats, through research, education and collaboration. We believe conservation is about building bridges: we like to foster strong collaborations between scientists, seafarers, policy makers and the community. Over the years, our project has contributed to the creation of Marine Protected Areas, the reduction of by-catch, noise pollution and ship collisions in the Mediterranean. 


Our research program explores open ocean ecosystems. Sea turtles, sharks, whales, dolphins and tunas are common to all our oceans. We investigate the factors that threaten their survival and search for innovative solutions. Thanks to modern technologies, we’re currently able to explore these species in new and exciting ways, unravelling the mysteries of their underwater lives. Aboard our research vessel, we conduct field studies to survey and monitor marine species and share our results with local communities and policy makers to improve biodiversity and sustainable management. We believe in solutions, working together with stakeholders to ensure protected areas provide benefits for all those involved.  

We’ve reduced by-catch of the Atlantic loggerhead sea turtle in the Spanish Mediterranean swordfish fishery by over 95%


For years we've run a highly successful volunteer program which has welcomed thousands of ocean enthusiasts on board. This has allowed us to share our passion for conservation and our discoveries with the public. This tried and tested formula has also enabled us to ensure the continuity of our Western Mediterranean Great Pelagics Monitoring Programme for 27 years. It’s a program we feel passionate about and a great way for us to fund our marine surveys while working with amazing people.

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Our flagship research vessel is a historical Norwegian fishing ketch. Her name, Toftevaag, means "meeting place" in old Norse. For years now, her decks have been a meeting place for scientists, fishermen, students, volunteers and people from all walks of life. Her ancient wood and classic style bring people together with one purpose: the conservation and protection of our oceans. The Toftevaag is also a symbol of our commitment to connecting with fishing communities. Fishing fleets in the Mediterranean have been exploring the seas for over 1000 years. They carry an extraordinary scientific and cultural heritage with them. We truly believe partnerships and working together with fishermen are the routes to a successful conservation program.  Our ship is a great platform to bring communities together, young and old.


Built in 1910 to fish herring in the North Atlantic, she was named after a village in Norway’s Hardanger Fjord, a meeting place for Vikings. During World War II she carried pilots to an airfield around Cape North as well as cargo and merchant men, up and down the Fjords of Norway. In 1989, after the Toftevaag was restored on the island of Öckerö, in the Swedish archipelago of Göteborg, ALNITAK purchased her. Her logbook was already full of adventures, but there was more to come! A year later, we converted her from a fishing ketch into a research vessel. After our first expedition, the Toftevaag became a true “meeting place”. The boat has worked as an open-air office for over 3.000 scientists, teachers, filmmakers, corporate teams, volunteers and students, representing over 87 countries around the planet. Not all of Alnitak’s work is conducted on board the Toftevaag, but this unique boat is our flagship. She represents our vision and passion for exploration and stewardship of our maritime heritage.

Between 1999 and 2008, Alnitak ran the “Spanish Dolphin Project” with the Earthwatch Institute. The formula for our citizen-science program was inspired by this project and it has been a huge success so far. Through hard work and positive team spirit, we’ve had extraordinary participation and it has helped us spread the word about the need for marine protected areas in our waters.

sponsors and partners

Our work would not be possible without the support and collaboration of:


The Toftevaag is not only a ship but a true meeting place, for years it has fostered partnerships and collaborations between people, institutions and communities.