Wildlife Officer Placements

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

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 2017 Wildlife Officer Placements are £695 which includes: 

  • Accommodation (shared same sex cabin with Wildlife Officers with Brittany Ferries, own cabin with DFDS) 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 the 2017 placements are now closed.  Dates for 2018 placements will be open for application in December 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 (Bay of Biscay Placement 2016)


Jacob Taylor-Bruce (23rd June – 21st July 2015)

“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! 

Sasha Taylor (21st July – 18th September 2015)

“Overall I believe my placement was very well organised and designed, allowing me to not only build on existing knowledge and skills but also learn entirely new things. I cannot put into words how grateful I am to have been given this opportunity and believe I have made two great new friends. Without hesitation I would do it all again!” 

Rebecca Lakin (18th August – 15th September 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!”