Bottlenose Dolphin Research Internships - Alumni Network

This program is no longer offered. View more programs from Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute.

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This BDRI page is dedicated to the BDRI's new research program located in the north-western coast of the Iberian Pensinsula (Galician waters, Spain).

BDRI is dedicated to long-term research involving Bottlenose dolphins and as an intern, you're involved with on-going research the Institute carries out. You also have the opportunity to observe dolphin behavior and assist researchers.

Check out their new program by clicking on "Visit Site" above. In Galicia, Spain, the BDRI takes a step and increase the quality of not only the research performed, but also of the centre locals and vessels.

This a long-term project analyzing dolphin-human behavior and interaction, you have the opportunity to get up close and personal with bottlenose dolphins! Interns will gain valuable experience in research, marine science and communication patters.

Some of the posts here are referred to the past location sited in Sardinia, Italy.

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8.31 Rating
based on 16 reviews
  • 9-10 rating 81.25%
  • 7-8 rating 0%
  • 5-6 rating 6.25%
  • 3-4 rating 0%
  • 1-2 rating 12.5%
  • Growth 8.4
  • Support 8
  • Fun 8.1
  • Housing 8.1
  • Safety 8.8
Showing 1 - 8 of 16
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Yes, I recommend this program

Internship with the BDRI

I participated in the BDRI´s program in August 2017 as an intern and it was an incredible experience that I seriously recommend to everyone.
This has been my first experience studying cetaceans in the wild and I have learned a lot.

If the weather was Ok we usually went out on the boat where we were looking for dolphins and almost everyday we saw a lot of them and right after leaving the harbor. Depending on your position on the boat (the front, back or top) you had to do different things. However during the day the positions on the boat were rotated so we had the opportunity to perform all different tasks during boat based surveys. Every 20 mins it was survey time and we had to collect different data.
When we were on presence we studied their behavior.
We did not just studied the behavior of Bottlenose dolphins, also of all the cetaceans we saw, like harbour porpoises and common dolphins.
Moreover, we did Land based field work in Rons, which is similar to boat surveys, but in land with scopes and binoculars. In every survey we had to count and identificate all the birds species (L,Lf,Lr,P,Ss...), boats etc.

At the lab we usually worked on Photo ID, transcribing all the data, working with GIS or in acoustics! Here in the lab we usually worked in pairs and for me that´s better because you learn to work with different people and it is also helpful because, for instance, in photo ID if you don't identificate one individual your partner can do it, so 4 eyes see more than 2.
Also in the lab they tried to change the people we worked with so we could get to know everyone and they tried to put us in different tasks everyday so that we learnt how to do everything, so at the end of the internship you have worked al least once in everything. In the lab everything was very well organized, so it was very easy to continue with the work that other people had started. I've learned a lot about being organized with my work.
At the end of the internship we had to do a presentation about a topic related with cetaceans and it was a good chance to learn doing research and also while listening to the others. Mine was related with my thesis, and I have to thank Bruno for all his help with the statistics and everything.
All the BDRI staffs very profesional, and you learn a lot from them. They don't hesitate to answer all your questions and if you are very interested in something and you ask, they usually let you do it.

We usually had the weekends off and we used them to relax and visit other places like Cies or Ons islands, going to the beach... On the free time there are plenty things you can do in O Grove like going surfing to La Lanzada or going into the catamaran to try mussels and wine that is a lot of fun!

Another thing that I found very interesting about this experience is that I feel I have grown as a person, because I haven't learned just about dolphins, also about life. It has been my first time living outside and for example I learned to cook and many more things! I've also met people from all over the world and I've learned things from different cultures and I´ve improved my english talking with them. I made a lot of new friends that I will never forget and for sure I will keep in touch with them.
I want to thank all the "Literns" because this time without them wouldn't have been the same, and to Séverine and Bruno for all their help and sharing all their knowledge. And, of course, the intern coordinator Oriol for all his patience, teaching us the birds and how to clean, and helping us with everything.
It was an incredible experience and I hope to be able to go back soon! Doing this internship also have helped me to know that I want to orientate my future to the marine biology!

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Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Great experience

Great experince working at the Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute for 6 months.
You can learn and understand the real and amazing work behind the research of marine mammals behaviour and ecology in their natural envoirnment not only working at sea but also at the lab. You will also have the chance to meet people from all over the world and make new frindships.
From time to time different species of marine mammals will strand alive and you can help in the returning of the animal to the sea or death and you can help in the autopsy to see what was the cause of death.

You will have an amazing personal and educational growth.

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Sara Simões
Yes, I recommend this program

Internship experience in BDRI - O Grove, Spain

Before going to Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute I never had any experience with marine mammals. It was there that I saw my first real life dolphin and and whale, which was incredible. You never get tired of watching them.
In the institute you learn all about PhotoID and others, such as: how to analyse acoustics, to identify species of marine birds in the area and to identify the dolphins on the field, ... I have learned so much from this experience. It made me grow both in professional and personal ways. I've learned that field work sometimes is not easy but in the end it is rewarding. A very important point of the internship is to be able to leave with people from other nationalities and different cultures. For that you need to be open-minded and to respect each other. I've met amasing people and made very good friends.
One of my favorite memories is one that happened in open sea. We were there waiting for something to appear and finally we saw two whales (minkewhales) and later on the same day we saw a huge group of common dolphins passing. It was so overwhelming and such a rare event to see.
At the end of the intership I decided to get a master in Marine Biology, which before was not my first option for the master.

I absolutely reomend this place to do an internship or even to volunteer.

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Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Great experience!

I participated in the BDRI 's program in winter of 2017.It was a great experience. Everybody's nice , they explain to you how the system works with patience. You will realize that even you don't have any biological kownlege, you can still join this programme and learn many stuffs you can't learn from school.
And O grove is a beatiful village , you can discover many amazing stuffs after work and maybe just take a walk on the beach.
Thanks to Bruno and Severine that gave me all the supports during my volunteer project and guided me during the work.
I hope to see everybody again in the future it sounds like a good thing to come back when i have a chance.

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Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic intership at BDRI!!

I participated in the BDRI 's program in the spring of 2015. It wasn't my first experience with ceteceans but it was certainly the best. During my two months i worked with very professional staff , I worked with a lot of different programs and increased my knowledge about dolphins, especially bottlenose dolphins . I had the opportunity to spend a lot of days working on the boat thanks to perfect sea conditions and always with dolphins . It was amazing : for most of the time you can spot dolphins after just a few minutes and so close to the harbour! Allowing you to collect a lot of important data . I also participated on some landbased field work and again we were very lucky with seeing dolphins.
About the town; O grove; it's a beatiful village with a lot of things to do , during the day off ,usually we organised fantastic trips to discover Galicia or to do other activities with everyone.
It was a very good experience and i suggest to everybody that want improving the knowledge about marine mammals and how works a research institute, to intern to this program.
Thanks to Bruno and also to Victoria and Severine that followed me during my stage and helped me during the work.
I hope to see everybody again in the future and,why not, maybe coming back here in Galicia for another experience or for my future thesis.
Thanks Davide

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Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

Outstanding internship and experience

I interned at the BDRI during the summer of 2013 in Golfo Aranci. I did not have the opportunity to study abroad during the school year at my university and I really wanted the experience of living and researching abroad. This was my first experience studying wild dolphins and I was very impressed with Bruno's patience and trust in me to complete the tasks that needed to be accomplished, as well as his willingness to help me learn. Bruno is very knowledgeable and was a great resource for learning during my internship. I can honestly say that this experience taught me more about marine mammals and ecology than I could have ever learned in school. Bruno was always willing to answer any question I had because he is very dedicated to helping his interns learn as much as possible. He was very accommodating about completing forms for the career center at my university and he was very helpful and supportive of my learning objectives and the project I completed for school based on what I learned from this internship. When working in lab, Bruno would often show us informational documentaries and teach us about other marine conservation issues, besides just dolphins, which was very helpful.
There often would be several days or even an entire week that we would not be able to work in the field due to poor weather conditions. This takes patience on the part of the interns because working in lab all day for several days may not be ideal. However, our safety was always put first and that's what was most important. We would always be given several breaks during the day and given different tasks in order to keep the work from getting monotonous. Although lab days were not always as exciting as working in the field, I enjoyed doing photo i.d. or transcribing data because I could see all of our previous work coming together.
This internship was also an outstanding cultural experience for me. Golfo Aranci is a small town and everybody was very kind and accepting of us. The majority of the interns did not know Italian but it was easy to communicate because many of the people knew Bruno and tried to be as helpful to us as possible. Aside from the village people we met, this was an amazing opportunity to meet and work with other students from around the world. I still remain in contact with several of the interns I worked with during my time at the BDRI. I have also remained in contact with Bruno and he continues to be an outstanding resource for helping me pursue a career in ecology. Although I do not plan on pursuing a career studying marine mammals, this internship experience and everything I learned about ecology and ecological interactions have shaped my future as a scientist. I would definitely recommend this to anybody who is seriously interested in marine mammals, ecology, and conservation.

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Default avatar
Yes, I recommend this program

A very fulfilling internship

I interned at the Sardinia location for three months during the fall of 2013. I had just completed my BS in biology and was looking for internships in marine mammal research. Although I had previously worked on a few projects monitoring gray whales through my university, I was interested in finding a program where I could be more immersed in research and conservation efforts.

My three months was split between the busy late-summer season and the barren late-fall season in terms of boat and street traffic from tourists and residents. The weather was surprising similar to my hometown of San Diego and we were able to go out on the water up to 4-5 times a week during my first two months. Bruno and his assistant were very professional and it was immediately apparent that they were both very dedicated to their research and conservation of the bottlenose dolphins. The most interesting aspect of the internship and location was the direct impacts of commercial fish farm right off the harbor. Being able to witness first-hand some of the direct impacts of commercial farming on dolphins was an incredible opportunity, especially as commercial fish farming becomes more and more prevalent worldwide.

Because I had previously done work surveying for marine mammals, I already had an idea of the amount of work necessary and the long hours required to collect and transcribe data on a regular basis. Some of the interns I worked with were displeased with volume of work asked of us as they were more interested in watching dolphins rather than collecting data. However we all had a shared passion for ocean conservation and I made strong friendships that continue today with girls from four different countries.

Overall I was very pleased with my internship. The housing was small but comfortable and enough space for 5-6 young women. The town, Golfo Aranci, is gorgeous and I felt very safe walking around on my own. The beach is down the street, the market is a few blocks away, and the locals were all very nice even despite my limited Italian. Bruno is remarkably smart and knowledgable on marine conservation and bottlenose dolphins and I learned a great deal during my time. Prior to my internship I was only slightly comfortable recording marine mammal behavior, however now I can say with confidence that I am competent in marine mammal field work.

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Yes, I recommend this program

Excellent internship!

I volunteered with the BDRI for three weeks in August 2013 while it were stationed in Sardinia Italy and after enjoying my experience so much I returned to intern with the BDRI from March to May 2014.

I loved my time with the BDRI. I learned so much ranging from research techniques to behavioural observations to the use of various data and mapping programs. Boat based surveys are nearly done on a daily basis - of course this is weather dependent and done not only for the safety of the interns but also for the effectiveness of the work since choppy waters make it near impossible to spot the dolphins. During boat based surveys, interns rotate in all positions and jobs on the boat, allowing for a balanced and fair spread of work among all interns.

If it was not possible to go out to sea, either land-based surveys or lab work is undertaken. Again here there are a variety of jobs that need to be done in the lab which after a couple of hours are rotated between the interns so that the work does not become mundane as well as to allow everyone to learn everything.

The new location of O Grove, Galicia is no comparison to Golfo Aranci, Sardinia. The town, though quite small, is buzzing with life and has plenty of restaurants, bars, clubs and cafes. The intern apartment is magnificent! It is new and has a washing machine.

Additionally the people I met during both of my times spent with the BDRI are friends I still keep in contact with today. The BDRI is able to bring together people from all over the world with this unique project. Also Dr. Bruno Diaz Lopez (Chief Biologist and Director of the BDRI) is extremely helpful and knowledgeable. Not only was he very, very willing to answer our questions and explain tons of things about the dolphins, he was also very helpful when it came to exploring the town and problems that we may had.

I can't wait to go back to the BDRI (hopefully extremely soon!) and would recommend this project to anyone who would like an insight into the behavioural research of bottlenose dolphins in the wild in an absolutely beautiful location with a top researcher of the field!

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