International laboratory for dolphin research

About the Lab

Dolphin Research in Eilat has started at 1991, in collaboration with Prof. Dodt Ditmar of the Free University of Berlin. This led to the establishment of the International Laboratory for Dolphin Research at the Dolphin Reef in Eilat. As of 2007 the lab is running under the hospice of Ben Gurion University at Eilat, under the supervision of Prof. Nadav Shashar. The activities are multi faced and span over a range of disciplines.  The lab is also a focal place for international collaboration from different research facilities and universities within and outside Israel.

At present, there are several active joint projects with researchers in France (2 groups), UK, Spain and Israel.

Over the years, over 6 PhD students, 8 M.Sc. student and 1 post doc have performed long term studies at the reef; these in addition to many students that performed short term research. Further, a multitude of students study and perform research projects regularly at the reef, as part of their veterinary studies or their studies in marine biology.

Current and ongoing projects

  • Sound and vocalization, from the effects of environmental and anthropogenic sounds on dolphin communication to deciphering specific sounds and cues produced by the dolphins, all the way to using vocal cues to understanding social interactions.
  • Dolphin behavior, perception and socialization, from time perception to searching for “useless” information
  • Dolphin interactions with people and perception of people. Taking advantage of the unique settings of the Dolphin Reef, in which the dolphins have the choice of how much and if they should approach or interact with people, we gain special insights as to their view of these relationships.
  • Dolphin assisted therapy started in the Dolphin Reef 1991. The concept and the core of this program are to give the children an opportunity to experience positive moments and be themselves. Motivation is the word to describe what the Dolphin Reef is creating for the children in this program. When the children feel better about themselves, they become motivated to accomplish greater things. The scientific study of Dolphin assisted therapy has soon followed. This field is now developing in importance with the establishment of French collaboration
  • Non-dolphins, yet of high ecological importance topics such as coral restoration, sponges function, fish behavior, and artificial reefs.

Who we currently work with ?

  • Prof. Todt Ditmar, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

  • Dr. Anne-sophie Darmaillacq, of Caen , France

  • Dr. Germán Sumbre, Ecole Normale Superieure of Paris, France  

  • Dr. Arik Kershenbaum, Girton College,Univ. of Cambridge, UK

  • Dr. Marine Grandgeorge, Universite de Rennes, France


Our laboratory welcomes studies by accredited scientis in fields relevant to its task.

For enquiries about the possibility of conducting your research with us please contact

Prof. Nadav Shashar

Academic course of the lab

An international course on dolphin behavior, husbandry and dolphin assisted therapy is run annually since 1995. This course has been recognised by several European universities and has attracted a wide range of international students including from many dolphin-holding facilities. As of 2008, a parallel annual course is accredited by Ben Gurion University


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