CERES Picture Gallery

why west coast?

    centre assisted

    the supplements

student projects

module development

work experience

exploratory visits


"no-hassle"  packet

transport, h&s support,
equipment and licenses

 €239 pp / week

our guests include:


"CERES provided a really

  outstanding field course

  experience for us"

Prof William Hughes

"CERES is doing a great
 job in providing fieldwork
 experience in a wonderful
 place. I truly enjoyed
 every bit of my visit there"

Student Newcastle 2014

"I really enjoyed the hands

 on approach to learning.

 I also found all the staff  

 incredibly friendly and  

Student Sussex 2014

"Newcastle University
 students love visiting this
 beautiful part of Portugal
 and CERES provides an
 excellent range of
 activities  that enhance
 their learning experience"

Staff Newcastle 2014

"Absolutely fantastic
 week!  Learned so
 much! Axul and  Astrid
 and all the staff made us
 feel right at home! The
 variety of places visited
 was  great! Highly
 recommend this trip!

Student Portsmouths 2014

"Ceres field-courses in

 SW Portugal are  

 transformative field  
 experiences for our
 students -  and
 represent excellent value
 for money"
Staff Portsmouth 2014

"In one word, the whole
 experience was amazing.
 There was and there is
 nothing I would've done
 differently and is certainly
 a trip I will never forget"

Student Ashbourne 2014

"Loved it! Students are
 gaining invaluable
 experience and learning
 vital skills in an fun,
 exciting and beautiful
 setting. Skills and
 experiences they will
 keep with them for a
 lifetime and that would
 be impossible to learn
 in a classroom"

Staff Ashbourne 2014

"All aspects were great
 but the 'best' is split
 between Carrapateira
 and Tom's cooking"

Staff Plymouth 2013

CERES Project biology Aljezur, Algarve, Southwest Portugal


field work for biology courses

The Parque Natural do Sudoeste Alentejano e Costa Vicentina is one of the richest regions of Europe in terms of animal and plant biodiversity. Two coast lines (south and west facing), a warm Mediterranean climate with rain fall in the winter and dry summers, a diverse, sparsely populated landscape with hills and plains, provide endless opportunities for biological field work in most field-based subdisciplines.

Browse through our workshops to get an impression about the remarkable variety this region has to offer. Our main area of expertise is the aquatic environment. If you are specifically interested in terrestrial habitats, agriculture, botany, ornithology, entomology, amphibians and reptilians, or anything else not already on our list please contact us. We will get you in touch with experts working in this area.

Workshops are usually booked by groups staying at our field study centre. For information about prices...go to page , for general information please go to page.

" the Parque Natural offers a range of settings

for biological field work unrivalled in Europe "

workshop format

Workshops run by CERES staff with specialist knowledge and fieldwork expertise, can be booked for either half a day or a full day. Workshops led by us enable the group leader to concentrate on other aspects of student learning that are not often possible with traditional self-led fieldwork. All workshops are tailored in direct consultation with the group leader to suit the group's requirements.

We usually integrate a contextualised hands-on activity, such as a survey or an experiment, into our day workshops to allow students to practice a variety of field techniques. The interactive nature of the workshops means that they are both lively and informative. All equipment and materials is provided by us. Day workshops can be supported by pre-and post-excursion classroom activities that establish the context for learning and provide the necessary follow-up and reinforcement.

The list of workshops below is broadly indexed by habitats. To focus on specific study themes or to target specific syllabus- or topic outcomes please contact us.

prices:  from €300 for a full day workshop and

from €170 for a half day workshop

coastal habitats: overview

The aim of this workshop is to provide groups from non-marine subject areas with an introduction to coastal ecology and conservation. Specialist marine courses booking this workshop will gain a comprehensive overview of local habitats, oceanographical and metrological conditions. You will be able to explore different geomorphological settings: rocky shore platforms framed by steep cliffs, sand and pebble beaches exposed to strong Atlantic swell, biologically highly productive and diverse salt marshes and estuaries subject to a semidiurnal and mesotidal tidal regime.

rocky shore ecology

Our rocky shore workshops range from introductory tide pool safaris-, over physically demanding excursions along the intertidal coastline-, to specific academic activities covering for example population assessments of intertidal fish communities. The western Algarve coastline provides an excellent location to study intertidal fauna and flora. It marks the northern most distribution for many subtropical and the southernmost geographical range for several boreal species. Communities show remarkable adaptations to the physically extreme conditions of high wave energy and large salinity fluctuations.


estuarine habitats

We are privileged with having one of Europe’s most stunningly beautiful estuaries, the Amoreira valley, on our doorsteps. The habitat diversity to be found, including sand spits, soft sediment flats, salt and freshwater marshes and artificial salinas, previously used for salt extraction, supports a large biodiversity. The estuary is an ideal study location. Alternative study sites in close vicinity are the Seixe and Mira estuaries on the exposed west coast and the large Arade estuary on the south coast. Some study sites are so remote you have to swim or wade to reach them.


from dusk till dawn: the seashore at night

Explore the seashore like you (probably) have not done it before. The shore at night is an astonishing place; all sounds seem to be amplified by the darkness. The majority of intertidal animals are most active at night. Discovering the shore with a torch is one of the most exiting ways to learn about animal behaviour and also one of least intrusive. If we are lucky we can observe an octopus on the hunt in the shallow water. We guide you to the best sites and show how to explore the seashore in a safe and environmentally responsible way. 

coastal lagoon / salt marsh

The Ria de Alvor is one of the most significant coastal wetlands in south-western Portugal. The lagoon was designated as a RAMSAR site as well as a Natura 2000 site. Some animal and plant species are important on a European scale. A huge variety of birds use the lagoon as an overwintering habitat. The European fiddler crab (Uca tangen) is relatively common. The lagoon is under threat from coastal development schemes. One hour drive to the east lies the large Ria Formosa lagoon. A boat excursion to the barrier island system is a highlight of this trip.

freshwater habitats

The variety of distinct habitats of lakes and ponds, rivers, springs, streams and wetlands combined with great interannual and monthly variations of rainfall provide interesting opportunities to study the structure and function of Mediterranean limnic ecosystems. The Aljezur river, that abounds the CERES field centre, is a small and dynamic coastal system. Otter (Lutra lutra), crayfish and terrapin (Mauremys leprosa) are abundant.  Ephemeral systems that dry out during the summer hold unique communities of aquatic organisms and can be compared with those in permanent reservoirs.


cetacean conservation

This workshop is run by passionate and esteemed marine biologists whose research focus on the study of marine mammals in southern Portugal. The workshop (usually) involves a trip from Sagres in a small research vessel (a surcharge applies) to introduce students to species identification, behaviour investigation, photo identification and conservation work. Quite often the vessel will find itself in the middle of a dolphin group. Orcas (Orcinus orcas), minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), loggerhead turtles (Caretta caretta), and hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna zigaena) are also spotted in our local waters.

sustainable marine fisheries

The fisheries sector is of great economic and social importance in Portugal.  The Algarve fishing industry is large and diversified. The mainly small traditional vessels based at our local harbours Lagos and Sagres, mostly belong to the polyvalent segment of the fleet and are equipped to use more than one fishing method e.g long lines, gill nets, pods and seine nets. We provide you with the facts and figures but also take you behind the scenes, explain fishing gear, talk to the fishermen, and sample the catch at the local fish market so that you can form your own opinion.


food from the sea

As so many people are not in touch with where food (especially seafood) comes from, then foraging the seashore can provide a great connection with both dinner and nature. Foraging by hand is one of the most sustainable forms of fishing, if carried out responsibly. This workshop provides a practical overview over the various crustacean, mollusc, plants and fish species to be harvested on the seashore. We discuss conservation issues; the ethics of foraging; food poisoning; the law and access to the shore. We show you how to use equipment such as nets, pots and hooks and – of course – prepare a delicious meal on the beach.


marine aquaculture

Marine aquaculture in Portugal is centred on the Algarve coast and dates back to ancient times. Traditional production focuses on sea ranching of molluscs in `viaturas´.  More recently semi-intensive and intensive fin fish culture of sea bream (Sparus aurata) and sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) - (and to lesser extend sole) has been developed to high standards and has become an important industry. Offshore cage culture is one of the new government's priorities. During this workshop you have the opportunity to visit the largest fish farm in Portugal, viaturas and aquaculture research institutions.


science projects

We organise research projects on a variety of subjects relevant to local conservation schemes.  A project usually involves field observations, developing hypothesises, data collection and experimenting in the field, data analysis and presentation. A project can be a capstone activity that runs over several days and synthesizes a wide area of course content and biological concepts.  Most projects are linked to specific module learning outcomes and will involve a written assignment and presentation. Student presentations in our Study Lodge followed by a BBQ are a highlight of any trip. 


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