CERES Project workshops Aljezur, Algarve, Southwest Portugal


science workshops
and extracurricular activities

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.

To fill an extracurricula  “day off” or to integrate an activity to achieve a specific learning outcome we work to together with local partners to provide you with discounted rates on a variety of exciting options.

" local knowledge,

linking to relevant curriculums "


workshop format

The interactive nature of the workshops means that they are both lively and informative. 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. 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. We constantly develop new workshops, especially in the fields of geology, geography and outdoor sports. If you have something in mind please contact us.

price for a full day workshop:  €300 group / €70 individual

half day workshop:  €170 group / €40 individual


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.


after dark: 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 rocky shore or an estuary with a torch is one most exiting ways to learn about animal behaviour and also one of least intrusive. Watch fish feed in rock pools when a beam from the torch is shone on them, then quickly retreat into their holes and crevices.  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 lagoons / salt marshes

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. 


Tom at a semi-secret local spot. Picture by João Vieira (www.elementoliquido.com).

outdoor sports and extracurricular activities

Together with our carefully chosen partners we can offer you a range of exiting outdoor sports and extracurricular activities for very much discounted prices.  Please browse through the list below or contact us directly.

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