Marine Mammal Surveyor

Marine Mammal Surveyors are the backbone of ORCA’s research.

These dedicated volunteers play a crucial role for ORCA, donating their valuable time so that important marine mammal habitats can be studied and monitored on diverse sea crossings in UK and European waters.

Utilizing the UK ferry network, our volunteer survey teams board ferries leaving ports across the UK to conduct scientific surveys to record the species seen, where they are and what they are doing.

All you need is a passion for whales and dolphins, a reasonable level of fitness and to take an ORCA Marine Mammal Surveyor course, which will teach you everything you need to know to become a citizen scientist.

These one-day online courses are interactive and will give you all of the skills you need to identify and record whales, dolphins and porpoises during offshore surveys.

You will learn about the species encountered most frequently on our surveys , how to interpret the behaviours they display, as well as understanding ORCA’s distance sampling survey protocol and preparing you for working on board a ship.

ORCA MMS FAQs Detailed course agenda

What you need to do and know ...

  • Complete an ORCA Marine Mammal Surveyor training course

  • Become a member of ORCA

  • Tickets are provided for you

  • Cabins for overnight sailings are provided for you

  • Surveyors are responsible for their own travel to and from the ports

  • Surveyors are responsible for their own travel insurance and food on board

Book a place on our Marine Mammal Surveyor Course

Courses are £120 per person and open to over 16s (though please note that you must be 18 to participate in a ferry survey and 21 to participate in a cruise survey). Once you have completed the course and become an ORCA member (starting at £5 per month or £60 per annum), you will then have the opportunity to apply for our offshore surveys (ferry tickets and cabins, where applicable, are provided free of charge).

Please refer to our ORCA Training Course Terms & Conditions for more details.

ORCA Training Course Terms & Conditions

2024 Courses

  • February 2024

    ONLINE - Saturday 24th February 2024 9:30am - 4:30pm (ONLINE TRAINING COURSE)

To book your place, visit our online shop by clicking the button below. Our Marine Mammal Surveyor courses do sell out, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

If you would like to purchase a course place as a gift, we are happy to provide gift vouchers on request. Please email us on [email protected]

Book a one day course

2024 Courses

We typically run two or three Marine Mammal Surveyor courses per year, which are mostly delivered at the end of the year, between late October to early December. This is so that all new volunteers are trained up and ready for our busy ferry surveying season, which runs from early Spring to late Autumn each year.

Later 2024 Marine Mammal Surveyor course dates are TBC. Register your interest below to be the first to hear about 2024 Marine Mammal Surveyor courses!

Register Your Interest for 2024 Courses

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