Wildlife Officer Placements

- Wildlife Officer Placement, Kelly, inspiring the future generations about whales and dolphins on board the Brittany Ferries' Cap Finistere, July 2017

Working in collaboration with DFDS Seaways (North Sea) and Brittany Ferries (North-East Atlantic - English Channel & Bay of Biscay), ORCA is proud to offer Wildlife Officer Placements across the summer.  This four week residential course (at sea) provides a fantastic opportunity for passionate, outgoing, people with an interest in marine conservation to work alongside our Wildlife Officers; supporting them carry out vital research and monitoring in the understudied offshore marine environment and promoting wildlife watching and conservation through educational activities to passengers. 

Supervised by our trained Wildlife Officers attendees can expect to be fully immersed in the day to day timetable of activities on board and after four weeks can expect to have gained:

  • Ship based Wildlife Officer experience
  • Marine mammal identification and offshore survey experience
  • Hands on environmental education training (formal and informal)
  • Customer service skills development (including presentation skills to often large audiences)
  • Experience living and working as a member of the crew on a commercial offshore vessel
  • Vital workplace experience for a career in marine conservation/education

Route Information

North Sea: Newcastle (International Ferry Terminal, North Shields) ⇒ Ijmuiden (Netherlands)

North-East Atlantic (Bay of Biscay): Portsmouth (UK) ⇒ Santander (Spain)


The 2018 Wildlife Officer Placements are £695 which includes: 

  • Accommodation (shared same sex cabin with Wildlife Officers) and food whilst onboard
  • ORCA branded merchandise pack including hat and t-shirt
  • Free place on an Marine Mammal Surveyor course (no cash alternative offered)
  • Formal and informal training by Wildlife Officers

Other details:

  • This role will include working outdoors at sea, therefore course attendees will require suitable clothing and footwear for this
  • Attendees are responsible for their own travel to and from the port
  • Whilst on board attendees will be representing ORCA and DFDS/Brittany Ferries at all times

Wildlife Officer Placement Available Dates

Applications for our Wildlife Officer Placements in 2018 have now closed.  Applications for 2019 will be open in December 2018/January 2019.  

- 2015 trainee Lucy McLeod (left) and Wildlife Officer Tiffany Rogerson


"This placement and my time on board has taught me a great deal of things about living at sea, marine wildlife (particularly cetaceans) and also a lot about myself as a person.  These four weeks have improved my patience, my appreciation and understanding of cetaceans along with my ability to inspire and educate others about the importance of marine conservation.  I can say without a doubt that this placement is unlike anything else I've experienced and is one of the best things I have ever done.  Although my 4 weeks are over, I was able to make memories that will last a lifetime - I sincerely hope this is only the beginning of a wonderfully exciting journey with ORCA and cetacean (and marine) conservation."  

- Kelly Forsythe, ORCA Wildlife Officer Placement, Bay of Biscay, 2017


"My ORCA adventure on board the DFDS King Seaways is now over, but I cannot be sad as it has been more than I could have ever hoped for.  I genuinely can't thank everyone at ORCA enough for this incredible experience.  It has been one of the best things I have ever done and I know it is just the beginning of a wonderful future with ORCA.  If you are reading this and considering applyting for 2018, all I can say it - DO IT! You will not only get to see some amazing birds and cetaceans but you will also learn so much and meet some fantastic people."

- Beccy Colvin, ORCA Wildlife Officer Placement, North Sea, 2017

“I absolutely loved the fact the role was varied and I got to learn all aspects of living and working on board. The ultimate highlight of my experience must be all the fantastic wildlife i saw! I also loved giving presentations and talking to all the lovely passengers on board. It was a truly life changing experience!”

- Elena, ORCA Wildlife Officer Placement, Bay of Biscay, 2016


“My one month aboard the DFDS King Seaways was quite simply, among the best experiences I have ever had. From the moment I came on board the ship I felt welcomed, not just by the ORCA staff, but also by the rest of crew. Although the ship itself was something of a rabbit warren, I did eventually learn my way around! The work done on board was varied but always interesting, from meeting new people as they boarded the ship, to giving talks and presentations in the ORCA visitor centre and of course, running wildlife watches looking out for whales and dolphins. Talking of wildlife watches, who knew the North Sea was so full of marine mammals! I’ve been on the ship for 11 days now and loving every minute of it. The crew are friendly and helpful. I’m really looking forward to the next two weeks! 

Jacob Taylor-Bruce, ORCA Wildlife Officer Placement, North Sea, 2015

“All in all, I think the programme was great and ran to a very high standard by Rachael and Ruth. I absolutely loved living on board, meeting all of the crew and engaging with new passengers every day. The ORCA centre on board is also brilliant and definitely a highlight on the king seaways. I am so pleased I was able to do the placement and I am really excited about getting more involved with ORCA at various events in the future!”

Rebecca Lakin, ORCA Wildlife Officer Placement, North Sea, 2015