Marine Mammal Conservation Volunteering


This is a great opportunity for marine mammal enthusiasts to gain an insight into hands-on research with dolphins, whales, and porpoises along the Galician coast, in North Western Spain. The short-term internship program ("volunteering program") is dedicated to those who are interested in learning about marine mammal research and conservation. No specific experience is required to participate as a short-term intern ("volunteer") with the BDRI. This is a unique opportunity for you to step right into and experience what real life cetacean research means, it is an incredible experience that will not only set you apart from the crowd on your resume, but will also allow you to develop an array of valuable skills beyond that of typical volunteering.


Applications are open for the 2024 research season!

COVID19 update: The BDRI will normally carry out its research projects and educational programs in Galicia (NW Spain) in 2023 & 2024. In acknowledgment of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, we have instituted safety measures. Feel free to contact us for more information.


Dolphins research and conservation Volunteering in Spain Dolphin research volunteering Dolphin research volunteering


Short-term interns ("volunteers") work with other students, alongside experienced researchers in order to collect different types of data, using various scientific methods, and help in the field and in the lab in general. Short-term interns are trained to participate with multiple projects involving a combination of boat-based and land-based surveys. In 2024, data collection will mainly focus on coastal bottlenose dolphins, marine birds and otters. Short-term interns participate in the transcription of the collected data, with the database work, use various software, perform photo-identification analysis, and more. A short-term internship program can be used for academic or vocational purposes, but students will be responsible for making all arrangements to receive relevant academic credits as a result of completing this program with us.


Laboratory work studying dolphins Studying dolphins in Spain Marine biology research and conservation programs Cetaceans conservation



This short-term internship program ("volunteering program") enables aspiring marine scientists to work alongside leading marine biologists as they undertake ground-breaking research on the charismatic marine mega-fauna in one of the most productive oceanic regions in the world (Galicia, North-western coast of Spain). The incredible diversity of cetaceans present in these waters (22 different species) allows the BDRI team to carry out several ongoing research projects focusing on the study of the ecology and behaviour of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus), striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba), long-finned pilot whales (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). Moreover, Galician waters are home to hundreds of species of marine birds and to the Eurasian otter, which are also part of our ecological studies.


The nature and demands of the role require prospective short-term interns ("volunteers") to meet the following criteria:

✓ Minimum age of 18
✓ A lot of motivation and interest in marine mammal research and conservation
✓ The ability to work a flexible, full-time schedule
✓ Enthusiasm, and the open mindedness to work, live and communicate with other people of different nationalities and backgrounds

✓ A minimum stay of 5 weekdays (from Monday to Friday)


Blue whales in Galicia, NW Spain Marine mammal research Bottlenose dolphin conservation programs Marine bird research at BDRI

Benefits of the short-term internship (volunteering) program:
✓ Learn about dolphins, whales, porpoises, marine birds, otters and their behaviour and interaction with human activities
✓ Gain awareness about marine mammals and their conservation and be able to contribute to it by spreading this knowledge
✓ Gain experience in fieldwork and lab work, obtain general knowledge about dolphins, their conservation and the marine environment
✓ Your participation is a donation which will make it possible for our project to go on and to help research and conservation of marine mammals
✓ Learn about different research instruments and techniques
✓ Take responsibility for your work and become a part of a research project
✓ Meet, work and live with people from all over the world
✓ Enjoy the outdoors of beautiful Galicia!


Marine mammal volunteering Marine mammal research Bottlenose dolphin research Marine research volunteering



The program is open to  applicants 18 years of age or older. Individuals with an academic background in biology, veterinary or natural science, coupled with motivation and interest in marine research make the most qualified individuals. Start and end dates are flexible depending on the needs of the institute and the intern's availability between January through to November, every year. If the participant intends to receive academic credit, he/she will be responsible for making all arrangements with their educational institutions.


The BDRI is a very international environment, and the everyday working language is English. Laboratory days typically last six hours and field days occur at least once a week (weather dependent) and vary in duration. There are two days off per week (typically the weekend).

There is a fee of €600 per week to be able to participate in the short-term internship program and we require a minimum of 5 days commitment (working days, usually week days, from Monday to Friday). Participants can stay longer if they wish to. Click here to download internship information package. The participation fee is used to off-set the cost of training, use of research equipment, facilities and research vessels, shared accommodation, and other expenses. Successful applicants will be responsible for their own transportation expenses to and from the research centre (O Grove, Galicia, Spain).


The fee reflects the real world costs and expenses that go into making the research program possible and short-term internshipprogram worthwhile. The BDRI also offers the public the option to participate in other programs, such as the long-term internship program (minimum stay of 4 weeks, click here for more information) or the "Researcher for a day" program (click here for more information). Unlike many other institutes, the BDRI is an independent research institute. This means that the fee covers the expenses derived from the volunteers’ participation as well as contributing to the overall operations of the institute. The primary focus of the BDRI is to carry out various scientific research projects and educational programs. This is reflected by the regular publication of scientific papers, supervision of numerous PhD, master and bachelor thesis projects every year and the collaboration with multiple universities and research institutions. The volunteering fee therefore does not only cover some of the expenses, but it is also a foundation that supports our ability to conduct such important research.



We are currently accepting applications for internships taking place:
- between now to November 17th 2023.
- between January 15th to November 29th 2024.


- 2023 holidays (non-working days): October 12, November 1 & 10.

- 2024 holidays (non-working days) (preliminary schedule): March 19, 28 & 29, May 1 & 17, July 15 & 25, August 15, October 12, November 1 & 8.

Apply early! Positions are open until filled!


  • For more information and details, download the Internship Information Package.
  • To apply, carefully read the Internship Information Package, choose the dates & duration of your stay and send the application form, a resume, cover letter and recommendation letters (facultative) by email to:
  • Applications are accepted on a first-come, first serve basis. Positions are open until filled. There is no deadline to apply.

    Feel free to send us an e-mail to: for any further information about our programs.


    Note: After sending an email to, we will send you an automatic response with the instructions to apply to our internship program. If you don't receive the email in your inbox, please check your spam folder.



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