Training Courses

Identification of Marine Mammals and Seabirds: An Introduction to Surveying with MARINElife

Locations of our Forthcoming Training Courses (2020)


MARINElife policy in response to Novel Coronavirus 'COVID-19'

MARINElife is monitoring the NHS medical advice and the UK Government response to the outbreak of COVID-19 across the UK.
Our policy is that we (as a minimum) follow the advice issued by the NHS (and NHS Scotland) which can be found at:


NHS INFORM SCOTLAND at:…/infection…/coronavirus-covid-19

We have a duty of care to our volunteers and event attendees and a responsibility to play our part in containing the virus. Therefore, in light of this advice, as a precautionary measure, it has been decided by the Board of Trustees to cancel all indoor events (both talks and training sessions) WITH IMMEDIATE EFFECT UNTIL 30TH June 2020. In light of the above, the following event has been cancelled:

  • Saturday 14th March with Northumberland WLT
  • Saturday 13th June with Dorset WLT
  • Saturday 11th July with Oxford Museum
  • Saturday 1st August with Cumbria WLT
Future course dates are scheduled for after April, but may be revised as the situation changes. Please keep checking our social media pages and website for updates.
  • CANCELLED: Sunday 13th September with Devon WLT
  • Saturday 19th September with Northumberland WLT (TBC)

For information about our training courses and how to book, please see below

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MARINElife is a leading charity conserving marine wildlife through research and education. Our focus species include whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and seabirds in European waters.

No other organisation has been carrying out ferry-based research for longer than MARINElife, whose work started in the early 1990s. MARINElife leads the science of ferry-based survey collection, and founded the Atlantic Research Coalition (ARC), now renamed as the European Cetacean Monitoring Coalition (ECMC), which brings together data gathered by multiple organisations conducting scientific data on whales and dolphins. MARINElife is also one of the few organisations collecting data on seabirds from ferries.

MARINElife's core offshore work is in researching distribution, abundance, and population trends for whales, dolphins, seabirds, and other marine animals from commercial vessels, with a particular interest in White-Beaked Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin, Cuvier's Beaked Whale, and Balearic Shearwater.

We focus on the European waters of the North Eastern Atlantic and North Sea, with teams of 2 volunteers, aged 18+, carrying out surveys year-round along fixed 'transect' routes through the Channel, Bay of Biscay, North Sea, Irish Sea, and the wider Atlantic Ocean, working on ferries, freight ships, cruise liners, and smaller recreational boats, including dive boats, angling boats, and other pleasure and commercial vessels.

Additionally, we adhere to strict scientific methodologies when conducting our research surveys, and either look for experienced volunteers, or provide ongoing training for new volunteers.

Why attend our training course?

The marine environment is under-studied, therefore, research on the status of marine wildlife, the threats it faces, and the action required to protect it, requires intensive study.

As a leading charity in the proactive conservation of marine wildlife through research and education, MARINElife relies on a diverse team of highly-valued volunteers who help gather data on the marine environment, and we are always eager to welcome volunteers who can offer their support. If you are enthusiastic, reliable, and want to make a positive contribution to the crucial work we do by becoming involved in our dynamic team, we would very much like to hear from you.

Our team leaders are experts in the field of data collection, and identification of cetaceans and seabirds, giving you the immediate and ongoing training to develop your skills to a high level. The course will give you a thorough grounding on the diverse range of species we study, an insight into the methodologies we follow, and the part you can play in safeguarding their future.

Many of our volunteers go on to have careers in the field of marine mammal observation, or in scientific marine mammal and seabird research, and their survey work with MARINElife has provided the foundation for their passion, and the knowledge for the next steps in their career.

Even if you do not plan to become a MARINElife surveyor, our training courses are designed to be an excellent introduction into conducting marine mammal and seabird surveys that are of scientific value.

**For our surveys, berths and tickets are provided free by our ferry partners, but volunteers are responsible for their own travel to and from the UK ports.**

Course price and timetable

Land-based course fee: £50, Wildlife Trust Members: £45

Our courses also make fantastic presents, so why not purchase a gift certificate for your loved one? Please contact Tricia Dendle for more details:

Gift Certificate

Land-based course timetable: 10am arrival to a 4.30pm departure, with an hour for lunch (not provided).

A typical land-based programme would be:

10:00 Part one:
Background on MARINElife
Observation Skills
Cetacean Identification
Marine mammal quiz
12:30 Lunch
13:30 Part two

Seabird Identification
Seabird Quiz
16:00 - 16:30

Booking information

Pre-booking is essential, so to book a place, please contact Tricia Dendle:

If you are enquiring on behalf of a group e.g. colleges, universities, U3A, please contact for further information.



For more marine conservation jobs and courses please click on the link below: