Cetaceans are protected by European law, but in order to develop effective protection guidelines, education and research is necessary to find out much more about the cetaceans, and the pressures they face.
The BDRI has educational and research programmes aimed at providing extra support for scientist early in their careers, science students, local students and scientist from developing countries - from training opportunities in the field, grants, to online and field courses.
The main purpose of this program is to contribute towards a more detailed understanding of the relationships between bottlenose dolphins and human activities. To contribute to this objective during the next field season we will focus on the following objectives:
- Determine abundance, mortality rate, and birth rate of dolphins in the Galician waters.
- Identify individual dolphins, describe the way in which their social separation is related to the way in which dolphins respond to the food patches created by humans.
- Document habitat use and a more detailed understanding of the relationships between bottlenose dolphins and fisheries.
- Mapping, in Geographic Information System (GIS), of dolphin distribution and abundance and hot-spots of interaction with human's activities in order to determine special areas of protection.
- Study dolphins behavioural patterns.
- Describe the dolphin vocalizations characteristics and changes induced by marine noise pollution.
- Participate in rescue operations and data collection from stranded cetaceans.
- Spread the knowledge regarding bottlenose dolphins and their conservation through different public awareness campaigns
The BDRI research has a multidisciplinary approach where we currently focus on four main research projects:
Behavioural ecology of bottlenose dolphins:
We collect information about distribution and behaviour of free-ranging common bottlenose dolphins from different platforms. By using different behavioural sampling methods this study is particularly focused in the interaction of dolphins with human activities. These studies provide values insight for the conservation of this top predator in an area characterized by high anthropogenic pressure.
Wild bottlenose dolphins ’ communication:
We obtain knowledge of how individuals within a population of common bottlenose dolphins communicate and what they are communicating. This can generate information ranging from; measures of habitat use, social relevance, geographical variation, cultural transmission to genetic fitness that can be applied to conservation. Although many vocalizations have been described before in the literature, the sounds produced during specific behaviours linked with human activities provides additional contextual information about their potential use as communication signals.
The bottlenose dolphin role in the coastal ecosystem:
We work with ecosystem models where we try to address the impacts caused by the interactions between human activities and bottlenose dolphins. An ecosystem modelling approach becomes an interesting tool to examine the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on bottlenose dolphins and vice versa. Mass-balance models are built to characterize the role of dolphins in a coastal ecosystem conditioned by human activities.
Pelagic cetaceans off Galician coast:
Data about distribution of pelagic cetaceans (fin whales, striped dolphins, common dolphins, harbour porpoises, risso’s dolphins etc.) are collected from multiple platforms including shore and research vessel based platforms. The behaviour and distribution of many species of cetaceans observed off Galicia is still unknown.
The Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute is a marine science centre for Research, Education and training in cetaceans’ ecology and behaviour. Students and volunteers can participate in hands-on research on wild bottlenose dolphins and other cetaceans along the north-western coast of Iberian Peninsula (Galicia, Spain). The Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute offers through the Internship, Volunteer and Field research Course programs hands-on experience in marine mammal research, boat based field work, intensive training and mentoring in marine ecology. It is a great opportunity for interested individuals to go abroad and participate in the BDRI programs during their gap year or to learn about cetacean’s ecology and behaviour during the holidays. The education and training programs will all take part on the north-western coast of the Iberian Peninsula (Galicia, Spain), a true marine biologist’s paradise. Any reproduction of the photographs, art, or other contents
is prohibited without written permission.