The fieldtrip to Bolonia (Southern Spain) for 3rd year Zoology and Environmental Biology students is an experience that really reawakens the love a student has for their subject. I really appreciated being able to get some hands-on, in-field experience, while at the same time getting to know both my classmates and my lecturers that bit better.



The trip involved exploration of terrestrial and marine sites. Usually a freshwater habitat is also sampled, but the dry spring weather in Bolonia ensured all rivers had dried out by the time we arrived. We were instructed on how to sample terrestrial habitats using a variety of trapping methods for terrestrial invertebrates. The marine element of the trip involved examining rock-pools for interesting specimens. A behavioural study was carried out in Gibraltar, where we recorded the behaviour of Barbary Macaques- monkeys which will use you as a stepping stone to get from A to B, and will try on your hat if you have one, or take food from your rucksack!

The most exciting part of the trip, for me, was encountering so many animals I had never come across in Ireland, or had seen rarely here. These included chameleons, larger than life dung beetles, colourful sea slugs, gobi fish, preying mantis and large grasshoppers, starfish, octopus.. a nerdy zoologist could go on! Observing macaques in Gibraltar, which aren’t caged or restrained by a barrier, was particularly fascinating, especially as I am hoping to carry out my final year dissertation on primate behaviour.


Though the field trip is fantastic fun (sangria in the hostel bar is almost too cheap..) some work is involved! At the end of the trip, students were divided into groups and we each carried out, and presented, the findings of our own research project. This is brilliant for final year preparation; I became really passionate about my own idea, and the field-work wasn’t considered work as a result. The class was also given a quiz on local taxa, as well as a few analytical questions on our recordings of the macaques.


All in all, the field-trip to Bolonia is an experience that reignites the love of biology that you have when you make the decision to enrol in UCD with the intention of studying zoology, environmental biology, or plant biology. It’s easy to get bogged down by exams and assignments and to forget the reason you’re really there;- that is, to learn about and explore elements of nature that have always fascinated you, and to find new ways to protect and understand the world around you.



This contribution was written by Irene. Irene is about to begin Stage 4  Zoology in September 2015 and completed this field trip in Stage 3. 

For more information on studying Zoology at UCD, click here.