Thesis – Dissertations – Reports at BDRI

The BDRI offers a limited number of independent studies to advanced undergraduate and graduate students (you can find a list of the previous master and bachelor projects carried at the institute here). The BDRI does not confer degrees, however, the BDRI chief biologist (Dr. Bruno Díaz López) and principal investigator (Dr. Séverine Methion) provide mentorship and supervision to interested students. This program is particularly well suited for students who are considering an advanced degree in marine mammal science, ecology, marine biology, ocean science and related fields.


Different thesis projects are carried out in a dynamic, international, and competitive research environment (i.e. we use the term “thesis” synonymously with “dissertation” and “report”). The main research topics of the BDRI include marine mammal ecology, ethology, ecological modelling and bioacoustics (on dolphins, porpoises, baleen whales and otters in Atlantic waters), with focus on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in different parts of the world (Mediterranean and Atlantic waters), as well as marine bird ecology. Highly motivated bachelor and master students in the fields of zoology, marine biology, veterinary and related disciplines are invited to apply for a thesis project at the BDRI.


A thesis project is usually undertaken when completing an internship at the BDRI facilities in Galicia. However, a thesis project can also be carried out remotely.


Learning at BDRI Oral presentations at BDRI Data collection in the field Studying marine mammals at BDRI


Onsite Thesis Project

While doing an internship, students have the opportunity to carry out a personal research project, as part of their bachelor or master degree, or for personal interest. The BDRI provides a research environment including a fully equipped and staffed laboratory, accommodation, and training in the field under the mentorship of experienced marine scientists. By carrying out a project at the BDRI, interns concentrate on and analyse previously data from our long-term research project dataset.


Interns writing a thesis project will be undertaking normal intern field-work and lab-work activities (6 working hours / day; 5 days / week). All personal project analysis and thesis writing will be done on personal time. All thesis projects will contribute to one of the ongoing BDRI research projects being carried out by the institute. This allows for simultaneous use of equipment and better supervision and guidance. The BDRI provides all the material, research equipment and supervision when a student comes to write a thesis. Data collection procedures at the institute are already established, and all resulting project topics are proposed to students depending on their background and preferences.

To warrant a good amount and high quality of data for the elaboration of the thesis project, the BDRI provides interns with data collected during previous research seasons. For example, if a student joins the BDRI in summer 2023, he/she will participate in the current field data collection, but will use data collected during the previous research season (i.e. summer 2022) in order to be able to analyse data and start writing the thesis from the beginning of the internship. This allows for a unique opportunity to analyse a maximum amount of data as, in most other research institutions, students have to both collect and analyse data during their internship, therefore reducing the amount of data available for analysis.


Humpback whale in Galicia Studying whales in Spain Bottlenose dolphins and aquaculture Blue whale in Galicia


Remote Thesis Project

Interested students are also able to carry out a thesis project remotely. BDRI scientists will provide the student with previously collected data and weekly supervision in the form of emails and video calls. The minimum duration of a remote thesis project is one month. Student will have to sign a thesis agreement before receiving any data. Thesis topics will be agreed on based on data/project availability and student background and preference. There is a fee including supervision, training and data preparation. For further information about our Remote Thesis Projects feel free to email us at


Project topics offered at BDRI

  • CETACEAN ECOLOGY - This topic includes spatial analysis and creation of models from cetacean distribution data recorded in Atlantic waters (Galicia, Spain). Outcomes of these studies will provide more information on the distribution of cetacean species in Galicia, and about the impact of human activities on cetacean distribution. The Galician firths (known as Rías) on the North-western coast of Spain have been identified as an area of year-round presence of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) and are thus a suitable area for exploring the location of possible special areas of conservations (SACs) under the EU Habitats Directive. Applicants should have a strong interest in GIS or modelling.

  • CETACEAN BEHAVIOUR - This topic includes analysis of behavioural data (bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), baleen whales (fin whale Balaenoptera physalus, blue whale Balaenoptera musculus, Minke whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata), and/or harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena)) recorded in Atlantic waters (Galicia, Spain). Outcomes of these studies will provide important information on individual and group behaviour of these species, as well as information on the impact of human activities on marine mammal behaviour. Applicants should have a strong interest in ethology and conservation.

  • BOTTLENOSE DOLPHIN COMMUNICATION - This topic includes analysis of bio-acoustical and behavioural data recorded from different study area characterized by different levels of anthropogenic impact (Galicia, Spain; Sardinia, Italy). These studies will explore the use of social vocalizations in different contexts (feeding, socialising, travelling, resting) looking for geographic and contextual similarities in social sound use. Outcomes of these studies will provide more information on the function of specific social vocalisations and influence of the environment and, in some cases, anthropogenic activities. Applicants should have a strong interest in bioacoustics.

  • DOLPHIN SOCIETY and MARK-RECAPTURE studies - This specific topic includes analysis of mark-recapture data from bottlenose dolphin and/or common dolphin groups recorded in Atlantic waters (Galicia, Spain). Outcomes of these studies will provide more information about population abundance, dolphin society and, in some cases, the impact of human activities. Applicants should have a strong interest in photo-identification, modelling, and social studies.

  • SKIN PIGMENTATION AND BODY MARKS IN CETACEANS - This specific topic includes analysis of photographic data of cetaceans recorded in Atlantic waters (Galicia, Spain). Outcomes of these studies will provide more information about cetacean external body conditions, taking into account intra- and inter-specific interactions, infections, diseases and in some cases the impact caused by human activities. Applicants should have a strong interest in ecology and photographic analysis.

  • MARINE BIRD ECOLOGY - This topic includes spatial analysis and creation of models from data about marine birds recorded in Atlantic waters (Galicia, Spain). Outcomes of these studies will provide more information about marine bird distribution (seagulls (Larus spp.), cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo), shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis), waders, auks and more) and the impact caused by human activities. Applicants should have a strong interest in GIS, marine birds, and modelling.

  • OTTER DIET - This topic includes data about the feeding ecology of  otters (Lutra lutra) in the Ría de Arousa (Galicia, Spain). Outcomes of these studies will provide more information about European otter ecology by studying the spraints and foraging behaviour. Applicants should have a strong interest in otters and laboratory analysis.

    Many other projects can also be developed such as impact of human activities on marine environment, veterinarian, mass-balance modelling, ocean sciences, and more. Consult with the BDRI to explore the possibilities ( The BDRI is a very international environment, and the everyday working language is English, but dissertations can be also written in French, Italian, Portuguese, or Spanish.


    Humpback whale in Galicia Bottlenose dolphins and aquaculture Studying dolphins and whales in Spain Bottlenose dolphins in Galicia Marine bird research in Galicia Pilot whales in Galicia Marine mammal research in Galicia Eurasian otter in Spain



    Data collection methodology and design is set and consistent over the years. All BDRI interns participate in field data collection during their internship in order to understand the data collection process. Laboratory days typically last six hours and field days occur several times a week (weather dependent) and vary in duration. There are two days off per week (typically the weekend). In this way, interns are able to participate in every step of the research process.

    BDRI internships are not paid and this training experience requires a tuition fee which is used to off-set the cost of training, use of research equipment, facilities and research vessels, accommodation in an apartment with other participants, and other expenses (access to wifi, electricity, taxes, insurances, etc.) and a project (thesis) fee. Click here to download the internship information package. The project fee covers supervision and guidance, associated paperwork, as well as the use of the BDRI dataset. Successful applicants will be responsible for their own transportation expenses to and from the research centre (O Grove, Galicia, Spain). Students carrying out these projects are encouraged to apply for extramural or university funding to offset these costs. If the student intends to receive academic credit, he/she will be responsible for making all arrangements with their educational institutions.


    Marine mammal research Boat-based research Bottlenose dolphin research Land-based research




  • For more information and details, please visit the page HOW TO APPLY and download the Internship Information Package, Thesis information package and the application form.
  • To apply, carefully read both documents, create a list of preferred topics, 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 served basis. Positions are open until filled. There is no deadline to apply.


    - Send us an email to with your resume, and stating your topic preferences and project duration.


    Note: After sending an email to, we will send you an automatic response with the instructions to apply to our internship program. If you don't receive the email in your inbox, please check your spam folder.


    Applications are open for the 2023 research seasons!

    COVID19 update: The BDRI will be running its research projects in Galicia (NW Spain) normally in 2023. In acknowledgment of the ongoing COVID19 pandemic, we have instituted safety measures. Feel free to contact us for more information.


    Feel free to send us an e-mail to: for any further information about the program.



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