Student Courses


Most of us know how frustrating it is when there are no courses focused on marine mammals available at our university and often wonder how and where we could attend one to learn more about these animals that so interest us. This is indeed one of the most frequent questions received in e-mails to the student representative. It’s not possible to put together an exhaustive list of internships, courses or seminars, indeed some are one-year only events! Nevertheless, there are some rather important ones that are organised on a (almost) yearly basis and have been attended by many student members throughout the years. Some of these are listed below with some practical information. The idea with this page is not only to provide a list of courses (and if you know of any other regular courses please e-mail me and let me know!), but we’d also like to encourage feedback from students who have participated in them. This is highly useful information for students who are considering attending one course or another. YOU NEED EACH OTHER! Write to me and tell me about it! Your fellow students will be very grateful!

***SEICHE courses starting June 2017***

Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) course, Protect marine mammals from being injured or disturbed by offshore construction projects or seismic surveys by training to become a qualified MMO. This two-day JNCC-accredited course combines theory and practice to give you a comprehensive introduction to life as an MMO and a professional qualification that certifies you to work in UK Continental Shelf waters. We are taking bookings for our course - June, in Devon We’re taking bookings now for our Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Level 1 professional qualification course, 7-9th June in Devon, 14-16 June, Monterey Bay, USA. On this course, you will learn about acoustic monitoring, local mitigation guidelines and get a thorough introduction into PAMGuard and a practical vessel-based Training session.

Book here: Protected Species Observer (PSO) course 12-13th June, in Monterey Bay, USA, where you will be trained in protected species monitoring and mitigation procedures. PSOs may be placed on vessels or platforms to monitor for marine species and implement mitigation measures during geophysical and geological exploration operations. This BOEM and BSEE-approved two-day course combines theory and practice to give you a professional qualification and a thorough grounding in all aspects of the PSO role. Book now Combine lectures with hands-on learning to explore the ocean environment and get to grips with the rules and measurement models used in Marine Acoustics.

Bookings for our next course in Seattle 20-22 June are now open:

Discover the Singing Whales of Ireland, Join the team on board a research vessel, learning techniques to gather data about marine mammal acoustics off the coast of South West Ireland. Then, return to the research house to help with the data analysis. You’ll also get the opportunity to relax and explore remote Cape Clear Island, renowned for its bird watching and abundance of varied sea life, including whales, leatherback turtles, sun fish, dolphins and sharks. 3-10 June, to book Marine Mammal Surveyor Training course 19-25 June, You’ll learn about marine mammal life and how to plan a marine wildlife survey. Then join a research boat off the Cornish coast to carry out visual and acoustic surveys, photographic identification, data collection and mapping. On the final day, you will contribute to the data analysis, which includes work on the local Bottlenose Fin ID Project. Join us, and enjoy the abundance of local marine life at their best this summer. For bookings go to List of Courses and Internships:

In Europe

There are a wide variety of marine mammal courses that take place in several European countries. These are organised by universities under the form of 1-2 week seminar sessions, or more formally with a degree at the end (Master’s); and by several NGOs.

  • Cetacean surveys conducted by Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust
  • Practical courses in Cetacean Ethology
  • European Seminar on Marine Mammals: Biology and Conservation
  • Marine Bioacoustics Course (CIBRA)
  • Morigenos – Summer Dolphin research camps
  • Cetacean bio-sonar and communication: mechanisms and social behaviour
  • Practical Courses in Ethology
  • Tethys whale & dolphin field courses
  • Ecocorps Research Programme
  • Distance sampling workshops
  • Master of Research (MRes) in Marine Mammal Science

Online classes / E-Learning

JNCC Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (with PAMGUARD training) eLearning Courses.

Location: Global eLearning Distance Courses

Date: Ongoing

The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) MMO registered course is required for you to work as a Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) in UK Continental Shelf waters during offshore projects such as seismic surveys, pile-driving and projects involving the use of explosives. This course has been created in response to the coronavirus crisis and has been approved by the JNCC as a valid alternative to the usual classroom taught course. Alternatively, project managers or interested parties may wish to complete this course for awareness of how MMOs work or for Continuous Professional Development (CPD).  The Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) course is designed to introduce this technique of monitoring for marine mammals to MMOs, researchers, project managers or any other interested parties. It covers basic acoustic theory, the use of a spectrogram to view example marine mammal vocalisation types and other ocean noise, PAM equipment components, assembly and deployment and finally an exercise in configuring the industry standard PAM software - PAMGUARD.  To complete the eLearning courses you simply log in, read, learn and then pass assessments based on the course content. 

Organisers: Intelligent Ocean Ltd. email:

Outside of Europe

Here are a few (of the many) marine mammal programmes that are organised outside of Europe and could be of interest to European students if they have the chance to participate in them.

  • Integrated Marine Conservation Programme; elective course: Marine Mammals
  • Distance education course in marine mammal management (MMM)
  • Independent research projects at Beam Reach Marine Science and Sustainability School
  • SEACR Marine Research Internships Please find additional information and links to institutions offering internships through the student webpage of EAAM (the European Association for Aquatic Mammals)

Courses in Europe

  • Hebridean Cetacean Research Surveys
    • Location: Hebrides, the waters off the west coast of Scotland
    • Date: Surveys are scheduled annually between April and October, with expedition duration between 7 – 12 days
    • Structure: Join the Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust (HWDT) aboard their fully equipped research yacht, Silurian, to undertake transect surveys - deploying both visual and acoustic data collection methods. HWDT conduct long-term monitoring of the distribution, abundance and habitat use of cetaceans in Hebridean waters as well as emerging threats such as noise and entanglement risks. Volunteers effectively become marine mammal field scientists for the duration of the expedition; living and working aboard Silurian, assisting with the day-to-day running and domestic duties, alongside working together as a team to carry out the survey work. No experience is required as full training will be provided. The Hebrides is one of the most important areas in Europe for cetaceans; the largest Special Area of Conservation for the harbour porpoise was just designated (using HWDT data) in the area. As a volunteer aboard Silurian, you will have the opportunity to observe the amazing variety of Scottish marine wildlife and explore the remotest, wildest parts of Scotland. HWDT aims to provide those who manage Scotland’s marine species and habitats with the information they need to ensure effective conservation of the area’s diverse cetacean populations. Students will receive a 10% discount on participation costs.
    • Organisers: Hebridean Whale and Dolphin Trust, led by Dr. Frazer Coomber and Dr. Lauren Hartney-Mills
    • Internet:
    • Email:
  • Practical courses in Cetacean Ethology 
    • Canary Islands, La Gomera • Organisers: The non-profit association MEER
    • Structure: Theory & practice of behavioural research on dolphins and whales, participation in a study on a human dolphin interactions of the reknown project Meer La Gomera and receive a full training programme including whale watching excursions to collect data, working meetings, lectures, lessons on data handling, course material, a certificate as wells as a large amount of background information on ecological whale watching. For details, see :
    • Internet: Mail:
  • Morigenos – Summer Dolphin research camps
    • Portoroz, Slovenia, North Adriatic Sea
    • Organisers: Morigenos-marine mammal research and conservation society
    • Structure: 10-day stages, Cetacean research and conservation: Bottlenose dolphin ecology (Photo-ID, distribution, abundance, behaviour, habitat use, fishery interaction, social structure •Language: English
    • Facilities: Morigenos research base Internet:
    • Mail:
  • European Seminar on Marine Mammals: Biology and Conservation
    • Valencia, Spain.
    • Date: Every 2 years, in September, lasts 4-5 days
    • Organisers: Dr. Juan Antonio Raga (U. Valencia) & Dr. Peter Evans (U. Oxford); hosted by Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo
    • Structure: Over the five-day course, senior marine mammal specialists from Europe and North America will lecture on a wide variety of topics in marine mammal science and conservation. There will also be a day of practicals, discussion fora, and opportunities to interact directly with the lecturers outside the lecture periods. The programme for 2012 has not yet been finalised. Regular lecturers have included Alex Aguilar, Arne Bjorge, Mariano Domingo, Greg Donovan, Peter Evans, Philip Hammond, Christina Lockyer, Graham Pierce, and Juan Antonio Raga, and topics include life history strategies, behavioural ecology, dietary studies, acoustics, survey techniques, statistics & modelling, pathology, contaminant studies, management of marine mammal populations, and various aspects of conservation (with practicals on some of these topics).
    • Language: English with simultaneous Spanish translation available
    • Funding: a limited number of grants are available for the course.
    • To download application forms, please visit: Marine
  • Bioacoustics Course (CIBRA)
    • Pavia, Italy.
    • Organisers: Prof Gianni Pavan (CIBRA) ; hosted by Università degli Studi di Pavia
    • Structure: one week, lectures on general acoustics, physics of sound, underwater propagation, marine mammals anatomy and physiology, tools and programs to collect and analyze data, underwater noise. Field exercises in fresh water enviroment.
    • Language: English
    • Facilities: possibility to stay at the student house Internet:
    • Mail :
  • Cetacean bio-sonar and communication: mechanisms and social behaviour
    • Location: Barcelona, Spain
    • Date: Yearly, in September
    • Organised by Dr. Josep Maria Alonso, (Spanish Cetacean Society); and the Mediterranean University Campus (Universidad Politécnica de Catalunya, Institut Europea de la Mediterrànea i Ajuntament de Vilanova i la Geltrú)
    • Collaborators: Coordinadora para o Estudio dos Mamíferos Mariños (CEMMA), Sociedad Oceánica de Cetáceos (La Isla de los Delfines) & Laboratorio de Aplicaciones Bioacústicas (Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya)
    • Structure: theoretical and practical classes Internet:
  • Practical Courses in Ethology
    • La Gomera, Canary Isands, Spain
    • Date: Several times a year, often spring (March – April) and early fall (September – October)
    • Structure: practical course, spend time out on boat participating in research activities
    • Organisers: M.E.E.R. e.V. Internet:
  • Tethys whale & dolphin field courses
    • Ligurian Sea, Italy & Ionian Sea, Greece
    • Date: held every year, the courses and workshops last 6-9 days. Several sessions are organised throughout the summer (June – October)
    • Structure: highly practical (some include more advanced training sessions of certain study techniques), working on a research boat. Every year, since 1993, some 300 volunteers have had the chance to join these "courses" and "workshops" to study Mediterranean cetaceans living in the International Cetacean Sanctuary (Italy and France), and in the eastern Ionian Sea (Greece). In Italy participants are hosted on sailing boats while in Greece the project is land-based (with daily surveys on inflatable boats) and participants live in a comfortable Greek-style house. The "courses" are run by experienced teams of biologists. Volunteers are involved in all activities conducted in the field during which time they are able to observe whales and dolphins in their natural environment and participate in collecting data at sea. Advanced "workshops" are another option. These are training courses particularly well suited for biology and ecology students and involve participation to all phases of research, seminars on cetacean conservation and management, and practical field activities (including photo-identification, behavioural sampling and remote tracking).
    • Organisers: Tethys Research Institute, led by Giovanni Bearzi (University of Venice, Italy) and Simone Panigada (Sea Mammal Research Unit, University of St. Andrews, Scotland) Internet:
  • Ecocorps Research Programme
    • Organiser: Cetacean Research & Rescue Unit
    • Date and Location: held every year in Banff, Scotland, between May and October
    • Structure: “Each year we offer a number of opportunities for a seasonal corps of volunteer interns to join us at the CRRU as members of the research and rescue team. Placements are usually for 2 weeks at a time (although 1 week placements and longer placements can be arranged on request) and, as an intern with the CRRU, you will have the opportunity to learn about these animals and their marine environment through first hand experience, working closely alongside a dedicated and knowledgeable team of biologists. You will learn and apply the principles of field research design as you participate in our ongoing field studies, will undertake training as a marine mammal medic, and will gain a personal understanding of the conservation issues which drive our research and rescue activities.” Internet: European Seminar on Marine Mammals: Biology and Conservation
    • Date: please see their website
  • Cetacean Survey Training Courses
  • Distance Sampling workshops
    • Location: University of St. Andrews, Scotland
    • Organisers: Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling, University of St. Andrews, UK
    • Structure: three workshops (introductory to advanced level) on various aspects of distance sampling, using the program “Distance”
    • Internet:
  • Master of Research (MRes) in Marine Mammal Science
    • University of St. Andrews, Scotland
    • Date: starts each September for 12 months, application deadline in April!
    • Structure: This is a one-year postgraduate course intended to prepare students for a professional career in marine mammal research and conservation. The programme is tailored to address the scientific challenges of marine mammal physiology, behaviour and population biology with strong components of analytical methodology, laboratory work, and field study. The course is being taught by members of the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), with some modules jointly organised with the School of Biology and CREEM (Centre for Research into Ecological and Environmental Modelling).
    • Organisers: University of St Andrews; Dr Jason Matthiopoulos (Course Coordinator) & Dr Sonja Heinrich (Teaching Fellow)
    • Internet:

Courses outside of Europe

Integrated Marine Conservation Programme;

  • elective course: Marine Mammals
    • Location: Beaufort, North Carolina, USA
    • Date: yearly, 5 weeks, July – August
    • Structure: This is a programme focused on an interdisciplinary approach to marine conservation and consists in an intensive 5 weeks of classes, field work and discussion groups uniting speakers from different areas of expertise and students from all over the world. The focus is on interdisciplinary problem solving - using natural and social science theory to resolve real-world environmental problems. The core course is Conservation Biology and Policy (2 days a week) which is completed by one of several elective courses the students can choose from, including one on Marine Mammals (3 days a week) which is taught by Dr. Andy Read has both solid classroom and field components. •Organisers: Duke University Marine Lab; Programme Directors (and instructors of Con. Bio.) are Drs. Larry Crowder and Michael Orbach; Marine Mammal course by Dr. Andy Read.
    • Funding: a limited number of international students can be fully funded to attend this programme under their Global Fellowships in Marine Conservation
    • Internet:
  • Global distance education course in marine mammal management (MMM)
    • Location: The Oceanographic center of Nova Southeastern University
    • Date and Location: distance education course
    • Internet:
  • Independent research projects at Beam Reach Marine Science and Sustainability School
    • Location: Seattle, Washington State, USA
    • Date: yearly, 10 weeks, spring and fall
    • Structure: Candidates design a research project at the Friday Harbor Labs and implement it at sea, learning from instructors and guest experts about the marine environment, endangered killer whales, practicing science sustainably, and living sustainably.
    • Undergraduate as well as recent graduates and post-baccalaureates will have the opportunity to pursue their interests in sustainability, the marine environment, and killer whales through the entire scientific process, from initial proposal to final presentation
    • Internet:
  • SEACR Marine Research Internships, (The Society for Ecological and Coastal Research)
    • Location: Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia, Canada
    • Date: see their website
    • Structure: MRIP is a volunteer program where Research Interns assist experienced and dedicated marine biologists and ecologists with their field research.
    • Through MRIP, Research Interns will live and work at a remote research field-station in the coastal rainforest of Clayoquot Sound, British Columbia, to aid researchers with ongoing field research related to coastal and marine ecology.
    • Organisor: Whale Research Lab of the University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
    • Internet: