Become a Volunteer

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. From research scientists to administration assistants, 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.

There are many ways in which you can offer support.

Maybe you would like to help us with our shore-based work? The following are just a few ways you can help but if you have a specific idea or offer, please don't hesitate to contact us:

Current Volunteer Opportunities

1. Offshore Research Surveyor

Our core offshore work is in researching the distribution, abundance and population trends of whales, dolphins, seabirds and other marine animals from commercial vessels. We operate year-round surveys along fixed 'transect' routes through the Channel, Bay of Biscay, North Sea, Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean; working on ferries, freight ships, cruise liners and smaller recreational boats.

As from the 1st November 2016, due to the high cost of administering our survey network we now require all surveyors and Wildlife Officers to become supporters of our Direct Debit scheme with an active subscription in place of just £3 per month or £5 per month for a couple. Your support is extremely important and will help to fund the vital research, educational and conservation work undertaken by MARINElife. To become a supporter please click the link:

MARINElife researcher conducting an offshore survey

We require our researchers to be familiar with the identification of cetaceans and/or seabirds at sea. MARINElife's work in research needs to meet strict scientific standards, in order to be published in peer-reviewed academic papers, so some relevant experience with one or both of these animal groups is important. However, we realise that to gain knowledge of such subjects it is necessary to spend time at sea; we therefore place great emphasis on the enthusiasm of each applicant to undergo field training as a trainee, helped by more experienced researchers.

If you believe you possess the necessary expertise, and are 18 years or older, please fill out our downloadable application form (opens in Word / LibreOffice). Please note we require a head and shoulders photo to be included with your application (instructions can be found on the application form). Once completed, email the form (and if necessary separate photo file) to:

We always welcome new volunteers

Ship-based researchers must provide their own binoculars; we suggest 8x42 or 10x50 binoculars to be used when surveying. We carry out the survey from the ship's bridge, so wet weather clothing is not required, however, the ability to cope with the ship's motion under a range of sea conditions is important, in order to maintain research effort at all times. A valid passport is required!

Tips for filling out the application form

In your application please focus on the experience and skills you can bring to the work we do. For ship-based research, please highlight your experience with cetacean and/or pelagic bird identification (mention species seen) and any other form of wildlife watching. It would also be helpful if you could give an indication of how flexible your availability is for short notice survey work.

Your work history and education are not particularly relevant to us unless they are with cetacean or seabird surveys/research. Other voluntary work for MARINElife doesn't necessarily need particular knowledge or skills, just enthusiasm and a willingness to have a go, linked with a genuine concern for our marine environment.

For some of our routes the shipping company also needs to know one or more of the following (depending on which company it is):

  • Passport number
  • Car registration, make and model
  • Date of birth
  • Nationality

So please remember to include these in your application.

2. Surveys Route Co-ordinators

MARINElife operates surveys on 17 ferry routes from ports all around the coast of the UK.

Each route relies on a volunteer co-ordinator, and we have number co-ordinator positions becoming available.

The following acts as a brief overview of the role of a co-ordinator. You will:

  • act as a point of contact for the ferry company
  • contact our community of volunteer researchers using existing, tested systems. These surveyors then bid on future planned survey dates for our routes.
  • using responses from researchers, build 2 person teams for each months survey on the route they are co-ordinating.
  • obtain booking references, etickets etc from the ferry operators and distribute to the team, along with the necessary research materials.
  • manage issues that may arise and will need to be able to manage changes in circumstances, i.e. survey cancellation due to poor weather or researcher drop outs.

Our co-ordinators are fully supported in their role, provided with full training and necessary materials, but they do need to be able to commit to being routinely available for a few hours weekly. They also need to be able to respond at short notice to any issues that may arise.

Our route co-ordinators all work from their homes and therefore need a PC and internet access.

MARINElife volunteers are a dedicated fun loving group of people and I am sure you would enjoy becoming part of our team.

For more information or to register your interest, please contact Tricia


3. Website Editors

Records of every offshore survey are compiled by the team leader. These records and associated blog need to be edited and uploaded to the website.  If you enjoying compiling and editing articles then please e-mail Tricia at for further information on this opportunity.

Unfortunately we are not able to offer placements for pupils on school work experience, and currently there are no vacancies for student internships.

If you are a beginner, and want to become more involved in our survey work by gaining invaluable experience at sea, you might like to consider joining one of our exciting identification trips, where we provide training led by some of the most experienced researchers in Europe. Click here for the latest available dates and routes.