Where we are - Galicia (NW Spain)

The Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute (BDRI) has its facilities in the charming town of O Grove (42° 29′43″N, 008° 51′50 W)″located on a peninsula set in the so-called Rías Baixas, in South West Galicia (North-western coast of Spain). This coast is among the most productive oceanic regions in the world characterized by high biodiversity, productive fisheries and important aquaculture activities, all supported by the nutrient input due to coastal upwelling events. 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 5000 fishing boats along 1195 km of coastline.


O Grove, Galicia, Spain O Grove, Galicia, Spain Studying dolphins and whales in Spain O Grove, Galicia, Spain


The beauty of the coastline around O Grove has turned the town into one of Galicia’s most visited areas. People, who come attracted by the beauty of the beaches and landscapes, also know that they will find the freshest sea products, pride of the local gastronomy. In addition to shellfish gathering and shallow-water fishing, the population lives from farming mussels, oysters and scallops. There are many activities in O Grove and they include beautiful scenic walks,  and fun boat tours enjoying the richness of the Ría aboard one of the underwater-vision vessels. O Grove is also home to the first aquarium opened in Galicia where you can discover many of the local marine fauna. Another superb experience is learning to surf at Lanzada beach with one of the best surfing schools in Galicia, under the guidance of professional surf instructors (who will teach how to ride the waves). BDRI interns have special discounts. You can also enjoy other sports like cycling, kayaking and sailing as well as  visiting  the lovely  town of O Grove, which also offers a multitude of restaurants and a lively night life.


Marine mammals research Studying dolphins in Galicia Field research on marine biology Studying marine birds in Spain


Seagulls tend to dominate the area due to the sea’s proximity, however there are also hundreds of other species which either live here permanently or just seasonally. Other bird species such as wading birds can be seen in the Umia-O Grove inter-tidal complex (a very important wetland protected under Natura 2000), such as oyster-catchers, turn-stones, dunlins, golden plovers, curlews, Kentish plovers and sandpipers. In addition, different species of ducks, herons, spoonbills, little egrets, gulls, terns, divers, scoters and  cormorants, coming from the north of Europe, are also present in this area. This protected area is also included in the list of Wetlands of International Importance, according to the Ramsar Convention, and is also considered a Site of Community Importance.


O Grove is situated near the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park, protected under the network Natura 2000, and declared a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA). The Atlantic Islands are made up of an archipelago of islands located off the south west coast of Galicia and is the only National Park in the region. Picturesque and tranquil, the islands were declared a national park on July 1st 2002 and have since been carefully controlled to protect the delicate ecosystem that exists within its borders. Marine birds also form a major part of the wildlife population of the islands and there are many spots where bird watchers can catch a glimpse of the parks residents in their natural habitats.


The area in which O Grove is located has an oceanic climate. The daily average temperature lies around 9.5°C (49.1 °F) in January and 25°C (68.9 °F) in July. The weather is mild, which is due to the proximity of the sea and the moderating effect of the firth. Autumn and winter can have periods of rain while summer generally is dry, with the odd heavy rainfall now and then. 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, 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, (a significant cause of mortality), overfishing, aquaculture activities, oil spills, pollution, the effects of noise from shipping, 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.


O Grove is one hour 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 "Camino de Santiago" 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. The city offers everything from history and culture to a great nightlife. Close to our study area there also is the town called Finisterre. Before America was discovered, it was believed that this was the end of the world. Many cities such as Pontevedra, Vigo, A Coruña, Cambados, Combarro and even Porto (Portugal) are close, and certainly worth a visit. It is also possible to visit the Atlantic Islands of Galicia National Park: Cies islands in Vigo or Ons island with its magnificent cliffs. Indeed, this whole area offers incredible places to visit, discover and study!

Internship dolphin and whales Internship dolphin and whales Field research on marine biology Studying dolphins and whales in Spain



Arrival by plane

The nearest international airports are Santiago de Compostela (80 km), Vigo (65 km) and Porto (Portugal). From the airport of Santiago or Vigo take a city bus or a taxi to the local bus-station (estación de autobuses) or to the railway-station (estación de RENFE) (ticket can be purchased directly on the bus, in cash). From the airport of Porto, take first a bus to the city centre and then a bus to Pontevedra (with Flixbus, for example).


Then, there are different options to come to O Grove:

- By bus: take a direct bus to O Grove (from the bus station - only from Santiago and Pontevedra); or take a first bus to Pontevedra and another bus Pontevedra - O Grove;

- By train: take a train to Pontevedra and then a bus Pontevedra - O Grove.


Please check the timetables before your departure:

Bus company: http://www.monbus.es

Railway company: http://www.renfe.com

Note: on the website, www.monbus.es, if you write as a departure, for example, Vigo, and destination, O Grove, the website will only show you the direct buses; so you will have to check the buses from Vigo to Pontevedra and then from Pontevedra to O Grove separately to see all possibilities.


In O Grove, the BDRI centre is within walking distance of the bus station. If you have any questions about getting to O Grove, just let us know.


Surfing in O Grove Bottlenose dolphin research Studying dolphins and whales in Galician waters BDRI field research on dolphins interaction with human activities


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