Marine Mammal Conservation Volunteering


This is a great opportunity for marine mammal enthusiasts to gain an insight on hands-on research with dolphins, whales, and porpoises along the Galician coast, in North Western Spain. The volunteering program is dedicated to those who are interested to learn about marine mammal research and conservation. No specific experience is required to participate as a 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 2021 and 2022 research seasons!

COVID19 update: The BDRI will normally carry out its research projects and educational programs in Galicia (NW Spain) in 2021. In acknowledgment of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, we have instituted safety measures. Feel free to contact us for more information.


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Volunteers work with other interns and volunteers, side by side with 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. Volunteers are trained to participate with multiple projects involving a combination of boat-based and land-based surveys. Volunteers participate in the transcription of the collected data, with the database work, use various software, perform photo-identification analysis, and more. A volunteering period 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.


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This volunteering program enables aspiring marine scientists to work alongside with 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 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 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 volunteer'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 volunteering fee of 100 Euros per day to be able to participate in the 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 (up to 4 weeks days). For volunteers staying a week or more, during days off (usually week-ends, Saturday and Sunday) the fee is 50 Euros / day (100 Euros / day during working days). Click here to download the volunteering 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 research centre (O Grove, Galicia, Spain).


The fee reflects the real world costs and expenses that go into making the research program possible and volunteer program worthwhile. The BDRI also offers the public the option to participate in other programs, such as the 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 volunteering fees cover 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 program. 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.


  • For more information and details, please visit the page HOW TO APPLY and download the Volunteers Information Package and the application form.
  • To apply, carefully read the Volunteers Information Package, select the 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.



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