• Overview
  • Objectives
  • Skills you gain
  • Costs to Consider
  • Site Conditions

Options include:

  • 2022 dates available:
    1 week – 27 June – 3 July 2022 (3 days terrestrial, 3 days marine)
    1 week – 4 July – 10 July 2022 (3 days terrestrial, 3 days marine)
    1 week – 11 July – 17 July 2022 (3 days terrestrial, 3 days marine)
    1 week – 18 July – 24 July 2022 (3 days terrestrial, 3 days marine)
    2 weeks – 27 June – 10 July 2022 (1 week terrestrial, 1 week marine)
    2 weeks – 11 July – 24 July 2022 (1 week terrestrial, 1 week marine)
    4 weeks – 27 June – 24 July 2022 (2 weeks terrestrial, 2 weeks marine)
  • 2023 dates available:
    1 week – 12 June – 18 June 2023 (3 days terrestrial, 3 days marine)
    1 week – 19 June – 25 June 2023 (3 days terrestrial, 3 days marine)
    1 week – 26 June – 2 July 2023 (3 days terrestrial, 3 days marine)
    1 week – 3 July – 9 July 2023 (3 days terrestrial, 3 days marine)
    1 week – 10 July – 16 July 2023 (3 days terrestrial, 3 days marine)
    1 week – 17 July – 23 July 2023 (3 days terrestrial, 3 days marine)
    2 weeks – 12 June – 25 June 2023 (1 week terrestrial, 1 week marine)
    2 weeks – 26 June – 09 July 2023 (1 week terrestrial, 1 week marine)
    2 weeks – 10 July – 23 July 2023 (1 week terrestrial, 1 week marine)
    4 weeks – 12 June – 9 July 2023 (2 weeks terrestrial, 2 weeks marine)
    4 weeks – 26 June – 23 July 2023 (2 weeks terrestrial, 2 weeks marine)

The first part of the expedition is spent in the valley of the Peneda-Gerês National Park. The Park has a wide range of vegetation communities that are characteristic of Mediterranean, Atlantic and alpine environments, these along with the dramatic elevation changes in the Park create diverse habitats.

At this site you will complete a series of lectures about Iberian wildlife and conservation, whilst during the day you will work alongside a series of research teams including:

  • Habitat: Quadrat surveys will be completed to determine the plant communities.
  • Fish Surveys: River surveys focusing on invasive fish species.
  • Herpetofauna: Standard searches along routes will be used morning and evening to allow data collection of both diurnal and nocturnal species.
  • Birds: Point count, transect and mist surveys
  • Mammals: Distance sampling and patch occupancy methods for more elusive species such as wolves will be used to determine population densities. These surveys will be further supported by camera trapping along the river for otter distribution studies.
  • Bats: Mist net and sound surveys.

For those on the 1 week expedition option then 3 days will be divided into half day sessions for each of the above surveys. For those on the 2 or 4 week expeditions then they will spend a full day on each of the options and get a more in-depth experience.

The marine part of the expeditions are run at Peniche. On the 1 week only expeditions you will have 3 days at this site and during this time will complete 2 PADI Discover Scuba dives and will have additional snorkel practicals to illustrate the short marine ecology course that you will complete. If you are already dive trained then you will have the option of diving with a Dive Master instead of completing the Discover Scuba dives and for the marine ecology practicals.

If you are at the marine site for a week or longer then you will have the following options:

  • PADI Open Water dive training course: This course involves a combination of theory lessons, confined water dives and Open Water divers to gain an official SCUBA qualification.
  • Oceanic marine ecology course: This course consists of lectures and in water practicals either by diving (if a qualified diver) or snorkelling. The lectures cover an introduction to the Berlengas Natural Reserve, marine survey techniques, the flora and fauna of the reserve and the threats of invasive species.
  • PADI Open Water referral course; For this option, students need to arrive having already completed their theory and pool training components with PADI.

Students may also participate in the fish and seagrass surveys

Portugal Research Objectives

The Parque Nacional da Peneda-Gerês is the only national park in Portugal and it spans over an area of over 70 000 hectares of mountainous landscape in the North of Portugal spilling over to Spain where it is known as the Gerês-Xurés Transboundary Biosphere.

This is a UNESCO recognized site due to its cultural and biological significance hosting a diverse range of flora and fauna such as an Iberian breed of wild horse, Iberian ibex, Iberian wolf, a range of raptors and endemic herpetofauna. Approximately 235 vertebrate species have been identified within the boundaries of the park, of which 200 are threatened or under protection.

The Iberian Peninsula is rich in biodiversity however in recent decades, the appeal of a more urban lifestyle and of modernization has led to the abandonment of rural areas and of traditional cultural and agricultural practices, many of which are essential to maintaining the habitat types and biodiversity of this region. Nonetheless, more recently, there has been a growing interest, both local and foreign, in promoting the conservation of such habitats, cultural practices and, in general, in the protection or rehabilitation of the Iberian ecosystems. The Portuguese terrestrial project will focus on assessing the impact of changing agricultural practices and future management considerations for the national park.

Portugal has a large stretch of sea and Atlantic coast and a culture deeply connected with maritime activities, therefore it is only natural that many Portuguese research institutions have a great deal of focus on marine biology and fisheries management. Peniche it is one of the largest traditional fishing ports in Portugal and a major Atlantic hub for maritime tourist activities. The Berlenga Nature Reserve, located 10Km off the coast from Peniche is a unique location with transparent waters and underwater heritage. It is a marine reserve and is classified as a Biosphere Reserve by the Council of Europe and since 2011 as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

• Learn about biodiversity and conservation from lectures
• Gain skills in multiple survey methods for bat, birds, herpetofauna and mammals
• PADI Open water dive qualification if on a 2 week expedition or Discover Scuba on 1 week expedition
• Participate in Oceanic marine ecology course
• Learn to adapt to team work and experience its importance

  • International Flights: Return flights to Porto airport
  • Internal Transfer: Travel costs from the start and finish points of the expeditions to the international airport
  • Visa: Not required for most countries but please check: https://www.vistos.mne.pt/en/short-stay-visas-schengen/general-information
  • Park entrance fees – £20
  • PADI manual and PIC (if you are completing your Open Water qualification on the 2 week or longer expeditions) – £69 or $87 approx.
  • Vaccinations – please check with your healthcare provider
  • Spending money for snacks/drinks
  • Spending Money: Local currency is Euros


The expedition will be running during the summer months in Portugal, so it will be dry most of the time with temperatures between 25 and 30 degrees on most days. Temperatures will drop slightly lower in the evenings with occasional cooler spells as low as 15 degrees overnight.

Fitness level

Medium. The terrain is slightly hilly at the terrestrial site, and you may be walking between 10-15km each day to cover the surveys. Fitness required for the marine site is relatively low.


Accommodation at both sites is tents with a combination of compost/flushing toilets and running showers, although these are not supplied with hot water. There is mobile phone signal at both sites but coverage can be patchy at the terrestrial camp.


  • Portugal
  • Peniche
  • Tourém

Want to get involved with this project?


Want to get involved with this project?

Wallace House, Old Bolingbroke, Spilsby, Lincolnshire PE23 4EX, UK
| +44 (0) 1790 763194 | info@opwall.com