BDRI researchers address a wide range of questions to form a multi-dimensional picture of the marine megafauna behaviour and ecology and its relationship to the rest of the planet, including human society. Since 2020, the BDRI has been working on the project BALAENATUR, monitoring the blue whales in relation to its migratory patterns, distribution and behaviour within the Galician continental shelf and in particular within Natura 2000 areas, that will be supported by the Fundación Biodiversidad of the Spanish Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.


Novel study on the blue whale in Natura 2000 areas in Galician waters that provide new information on these species little known and studied in an area of enormous richness in marine biodiversity.


The results of this project provide valuable information on blue, fin and sei whales in Galician waters, which is essential for the development of a Whale Recovery Plan in Spanish waters, as well as for optimising the management of Natura 2000 sites, and which can serve as a basis for decision-making for the conservation of these species. Moreover, information will be provided on the impact of climate change on the marine food chain as the whales' food (linked to northern krill) is present in Galicia due to coastal upwelling events conditioned by the weather. In order to carry out research in Spanish waters the BDRI has a special research permit from the Spanish Government.


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Marine mammal scientistsStudying whales and dolphins in SpainDolphin research and conservationInternship whales and dolphins


Description of the project

  • Climate change and human activities are expected to have important effects on marine biodiversity in Spain that will be particularly severe in endangered species of character migratory, such as the blue whale, and in those ecosystems, such as the Galician coast, characterized by its rich biodiversity and great pressure anthropogenic. Having conducted scientific studies on the blue whale and other baleen whales in Spanish waters, our group proposes monitoring of these species in relation to their migration patterns, distribution and behaviour within the continental shelf and in particular within areas of the network natura 2000. The results of this project will provide information hitherto non-existent on the biology of whales in our essential territory for the development of the future recovery plan of and that can serve as a basis for decision making for the conservation of the whales in our waters.

  • Five species of baleen whales have been recorded in Galician waters, fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus), minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), and sei whales (Balaenoptera borealis). 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.


Bottlenose dolphins in SpainMarine mammal research and conservationBlue whales in Galicia, Spain Studying dolphins and whales in Spain


    Main Objective

    Improve the necessary knowledge on the blue whale and other threatened whale species in Natura 2000 sites and contribute to the conservation of these species.

    List of actions to be developed

  • - Dissemination and communication of the project: dissemination and awareness of the different stages of the project as well as the final results.
    - Bibliographic review of scientific articles.
    - Implementation and organization of the sampling campaigns. Organisation of the calendar and working groups, boat, scientific equipment, as well as the specific design of the different types of sampling.
    - Sampling campaigns and monitoring of fin whales within Natura 2000 areas. Monitoring of the distribution and presence of blue, fin and sei whales within Natura 2000 areas in the continental platform of Galician waters. Collection of oceanographic, biological, environmental and anthropic samples. It is estimated a total of 2 monthly surveys during 6 months.
  • - Processing of the samples and analysis of the data collected. This stage will allow the revision of the samples obtained as well as the statistical analysis of the data.


Whales research project Blue whales research Whales research and conservation Studying whales in Spain


    Ministerio para la transición ecológica, Gobierno de España


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    Dolphin internshipVolunteer with dolphinsInternship with dolphins and whalesBottlenose dolphins research and conservation


Research on cetaceans Blue whales research and conservation Internship with dolphins Studying whales in Spain


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