Train to become a Marine Mammal Surveyor

- Courses are run in a classroom setting - Newcastle course pictured here

Train to become a Marine Mammal Surveyor

If you are keen to get out to sea and actively participate in whale and dolphin conservation, then why not attend one of ORCA’s Marine Mammal Surveyor training courses?

Our one day, classroom based training courses will give you all of the skills required to competently perform surveys for whales, dolphins and porpoises at sea. Once you have completed a course and become an ORCA member, you will be able to apply to attend ORCA’s offshore surveys.  

More information on the course is detailed below, but if you would like to book a place, please visit our online shop where all available dates are listed.

- Surveyors on the bridge of Brittany Ferries Mont St Michel, Portsmouth to Caen ferry survey route

What will I learn?

ORCA Marine Mammal Surveyor training courses are fun and illuminating, and taught by our experienced trainers. We provide practical training on how to identify whales, dolphins and porpoises at sea. The course will teach you how to interpret their behaviour and carry out offshore, distance sampling surveys as part of a team, as well as preparing you for travelling at sea.  Here is a detailed breakdown of the course agenda to give you an idea of how the course is run:

Course Agenda

To give you an idea of what it's like on a survey, here are some of the ships that we have teams on:

Brittany Ferries Pont-Aven (L), NorthLink Hrossey (R)

DFDS King Seaways (L), Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Ben-My-Chree (R)


To find out which route we use with each ferry or cruise partner, please visit our Surveyor Network

What do I receive on the day?

You will receive a certificate of attendance at the end of the day. You will also receive a copy of the ORCA Survey Protocol and if you become a member on the day you will receive a free whale and dolphin identification book.

What should I bring on the day?

Bring whatever you like to make notes on the day, be it pen and paper or a tablet.  Some venues will have on site cafes or shops but some do not, so you may wish to bring a packed lunch.  An email will be sent to everyone attending the course around a week before the day, detailing what facilities are available.  You should also bring along a copy of your confirmation email as this acts as your ticket for the course.

Course Locations 2018

Date Location Time Course Status
Saturday 27th January 2018 Institute of Marine Science, Ferry Road, Eastney, Portsmouth, PO4 9LY 9.30am-4.30pm Sold Out
November 2018 Great North Museum: Hancock, Barras Bridge, Newcastle, NE2 4PT 9.30am-4.30pm Date TBC
November 2018 Marine Biological Association, Citadel Hill, Plymouth, PL1 2PB 9.30am-4.30pm Date TBC
December 2018 National Oceanography Centre, European Way, Southampton, SO14 3ZH 9.30am-4.30pm Date TBC
Date TBC SAMS, Scottish Marine Institute, Oban, Argyll, PA37 1QA 9.30am-4.30pm Date TBC


Our training courses last for one day at a cost of * £60 per person, or £54 for concessions (students, seniors, unemployed- proof required on the day). Once you have completed the training and become an ORCA member (payable separately from £36 per annum/ £3 monthly), our offshore surveys are free to attend - ferry tickets and cabins (for overnight sailings) are provided free of charge.

Our training courses for 2017/18 are now fully booked. We will be announcing new dates for winter 2018/19 in the near future, so watch this space for more information soon!

Book Now

Register your interest to find out more about future courses.

* Please note that tickets are non-refundable.  For information regarding course transfers please refer to our ORCA training Course T&Cs.

- You need to be 18+ to participate in a ferry survey and 21+ to participate in a cruise survey.

- You must be 16+ to attend the course.