Land vehicles will transport volunteers to the land observation point base (5–10 minute drive). For boat-based teams, the accommodations are a 5 minutes drive to the boat docks, and vehicles will transport volunteers and equipment. Only project staff will operate vehicles. Seat belts must be worn at all times. For the office-based work, the research station is a 15-minute walk from the accommodations.
We will use boats to travel across open water to study sites. The vessel is fully equipped with safety equipment (life jackets, flares, vhf radios, throw rope, and first aid kit), navigation, and communication items. It is always possible for the ride to become bumpy for some portion of the trip, so the boat work is not advisable for volunteers with back problems. Volunteers are not permitted to drive the boat. Volunteers must also wear the proper flotation suits and lifejackets at all times when on the boats. Boats typically operate at a maximum of one-hour journey time to the harbor.
Exposure to cold
Both the land team and boat team will be exposed to wind and rain and cold temperatures. Volunteers should wear layers of clothes and rain jackets when necessary. Boat and land based teams will have flotation suits for insulation (provided by the project).
You will also walk to the observation point, which is approximately 300m. You may take your time with any sections of challenging terrain.
Please inform project staff if you need a moment away from the team. Volunteers will work in groups of at least two at all times. The scientists take great care to know, at all times, where each volunteer is working, so that lost volunteers can be located quickly. If you leave the accommodations to go off on your own, you must always notify the project staff first and sign out from the project. You must also let staff know when you will return.
We will cover appropriate responses to wildlife encounters in the introductory briefing. Do not approach or touch any wildlife.
Volunteers will be on the research vessels at sea or on the land station for three to eight hours per day. Bring warm and protective hats and clothing, along with sunglasses. To avoid dehydration, volunteers will bring two water bottles each day, and extra water will be available.
Working on a Boat
Volunteers will be briefed on the safety measures at sea including instructions for boarding and disembarking the boat. Appropriate footwear should be worn on the vessel, and volunteers should follow the captain’s instructions for safety protocols when the boat is in motion.
Slips and Trips
The land observation point is at a high elevation and has sheer cliff drop offs. The observation point is also covered in thick grass, which can be slippery when wet. Volunteers should stay at least 10 feet away from the cliff edge as a precaution.
All volunteers will receive a safety briefing prior to research activities on the boat and will be told where safety equipment is located and how to use the equipment. Volunteers are screened for swimming ability. The boat is fully equipped with safety gear (life jackets for all crew members, fire extinguishers, first-aid kit, VHF radio, mobile phone, etc.). Smoking is not allowed on the boat. The captain will have a valid nautical license and extensive navigation experience. The staff will go over safety protocols in the event someone falls out of the boat. Volunteers will wear flotation suits and life jackets at all times when on the boat as a precaution for falling overboard. The staff will also brief volunteers on the deployment of hydrophones and avoiding the cables, which are potential trip hazards.
Vestmannaeyjar is a generally safe region for travelers; however, do not leave valuables unattended in public areas.
Earthquakes and Volcanic Activity
While rare on the island, earthquakes and eruptions are possible as the island and surrounding ocean have active volcanoes. Volunteers will be briefed on warning notices, safest locations on site during tremors/eruptions, evacuation procedures, and the group gathering point.
Distance from Medical Care
There is a health care center on the island located at Sólhlí? 10, in the town center. It consists of a primary health care center including on-call emergency doctor service 24 hours a day and a small 15-bed hospital with an on-call physician/doctor as well. During working hours the health care center can be contacted via telephone 432-2500 for assistance or appointment booking, but in the case of emergency one can come directly to the reception. Out of working hours the central health care help desk should be contacted (1700) for assistance and the contact of the island’s on-call doctor. In case of emergency the number to call is 112, and a local ambulance service operated by the health care center can assist. In the case of major injuries or illness patients can be transported via air ambulance to Landspitalinn hospital in Reykjavík either by plane or helicopter.