The study area of the BDRI is the North Western coast of the Iberian Peninsula (Galician coastal waters in NW of Spain), more specifically the waters of the Ría de Arousa (firth of Arousa) which is a part of the Rías Baixas (the Baixas firths) and surrounding waters. The region has a relatively narrow continental shelf with a total surface area of approximately 15,000 km2. The Galician continental shelf and the Galician rías (coastal fjords) lie at the northern edge of one of the major upwelling areas in the world, the eastern boundary system off NW Africa and SW Europe. The frequent upwelling … of cold and dense North Atlantic Central Water results in nutrient enrichment and as a result, this area is among the most productive oceanic regions in the world. This coast is characterized by high biodiversity, productive fisheries and important aquaculture activities, all supported by the nutrient input due to upwelling. Galicia is the main fishing region of Spain and one of the most important in the world, with 87 fishing ports used by more than 6000 fishing boats along 1195 km of coastline.

More than 20 species of cetaceans have been recorded in Galician waters, the most abundant in the coastal rías are bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) and short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). Other species present in the area include Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus), striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba), long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas), killer whales (Orcinus orca), sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), beaked whales (3 species), humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis), fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), and blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus).

We also find Eurasian otters (Lutra lutra) in rivers and along the shoreline of Galician rías.

Galicia is home to hundreds of species of birds, either permanently or seasonally and include several species of seagulls, cormorants, shags, gannets, auks, shearwaters, petrels, skuas, terns, herons, loons, waders, wildfowl and many more.

A variety of conservation issues affect the marine life in Galician waters, many of which are related to human activity, such as the interaction with fisheries, which is a significant cause of mortality, overfishing, aquaculture activities, oil spills, pollution, the effects of noise from shipping, oil and gas exploration, military activity and tourism. The degree of impact of any human activity, varies considerably between different species and depends on their ecology, distribution and abundance.



Galicia is known in Spain as the "land of the 1000 rivers". Those rivers cross all the region from the mountainous inland to the coast, where they form the characteristical "Rias" (firths).


The first cultures which left their tracks in Galicia were Celtic, while Romans left as a legacy the walls of Lugo, the bridge of Ourense, and the Tower of Hercules. Middle Ages were marked by the discovery of the tomb of the Apostle Santiago (Saint James). Thousands of pilgrims made their way to the cathedral of the newly founded town Santiago de Compostela. Galicia's folklore clearly shows its Celtic and Gaelic origins, and the most characteristical musical instrument is the Gaita (bagpipe). Regional gastronomy is of great reputation for its excellent fish, Empanada Gallega (a typical pie of fish or meat), traditional sweets prepared in some monasteries (where the recipes are kept in secret jalously), and the Ribeiro, Albariño, Godello wines.


BDRI's field station

Town: O Grove (location of BDRI facilities)
42° 29′ 43.09″ N, 8° 51′ 50.72″ W



The charming and picturesque village of O Grove is located on a peninsula set in the so-called Rías Baixas, in Southwest Galicia. It divides the Arosa and Pontevedra inlets. The sight of its many-coloured boats forms an unforgettable image and the beauty of its coast has turned it into one of Galicia’s most visited areas.


People, who come attracted by the beauty of the beaches and the softness of the weather, also know that they will find the freshest sea products, pride of our gastronomy. As well as shellfish gathering and shallow-water fishing, the population lives from the farming of mussels, oysters and scallops on wooden platforms out in the water. Apart from contemplating Atlantic landscapes, such as the large sandy beach of A Lanzada or the Umia-O Grove inter-tidal complex (a very interesting ornithological refuge), you will be able to rest on the secluded coves of the Arousa estuary, practice all kind of water and outdoor sports (surfing, kayaking, kite surf, etc), or just take a walk through the very nice natural paths and tracks available for you. In this peninsula, all nature lovers can find wonderful corners possessing an undeniable beauty.


There are many activities in O Grove: walking along the Arousa inlet, looking at the sea through glass compartments in boats and watching varied sea fauna. For the night leisure time there are many possibilities, you can wander into the town at night and have a drink in one of the many pubs. O Grove is 45 minutes away from Santiago de Compostela. People from all over the world come to visit the city every year, many of them reaching the end of the Way of Saint James pilgrimage route. Its historic centre has been designated a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. But, this is not the only thing that makes this beautiful city interesting. The University of Santiago de Compostela is one of the oldest Spanish universities and has more than 40,000 students corresponding to almost half of the city’s population, making Santiago one of the centres of the university education in Spain. Hence, the city offers everything from history and culture to a great nightlife. You can also enjoy sea trips to visit the National Park of the Atlantic Islands (Cies islands in Vigo, the Ons island or the Salvora Island) with its magnificent cliffs and beaches.


Indeed, this whole area offers incredible places to see, discover and study.


For more information about BDRI's research and conservation work, please visit our Facebook page.


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So, if you want to be a part of this unique experience and are a person who is interested in going abroad and obtaining hands-on experience in dolphins research, boat based field work, intensive training while having fun and meeting people from all over the world, then you should consider to participate in one of our programs.


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