Seasearch Training

Whether you have taken part in marine recording project before or not you can add to your knowledge and experience by taking part in one of our training courses. Three types of Seasearch course are currently available:

Seasearch Observer - for divers new to marine recording in British and Irish waters

Seasearch Surveyor - for experienced recorders who want to increase the value of the results

Special Interest Courses - a range of ID and techniques courses for people who want to expand their knowledge 


Seasearch Observer

This is a one-day course aimed at giving divers new to the project and new to marine recording a basic grounding. At the end of the course you should be able to complete the Seasearch Observation Form and take part in Seasearch dives either on your own, with your club or on dives organised by Seasearch partners.


During the course you'll learn about Seasearch - its aims, history and achievements, a basic introduction to the variety of marine life in British and Irish waters, recognising and classifying marine habitats, position fixing, and how to fill in the Observation Form. The day concludes with a 'video dive' and an opportunity to fill in a form without even getting wet!

The course includes a course pack and identification guides and recording slates are available to purchase giving you everythng you'll need to go ahead and get started. The tutors are all divers themselves and keen Seasearchers.

A real dive isn't a part of the course but usually one is arranged locally for you to practice your techniques with a tutor on hand. Where two days are shown in the list below the course usually takes place on the first day with diving on the second.

At the end of the course you'll get a Seasearch Qualification booklet. Once you have completed 5 forms for real (two on dives with a tutor present) you can get signed up as a Seasearch Observer.

Here is what one participant thought of the course "Most enjoyable. Wish I had done something like this years ago!" (October 2009)

The programme of Observer Courses for 2019 is beginning to take shape. We try to run the courses early in the year so that people have the maximum time to be out and recording. Additional courses will be added if there is sufficient demand. We can also organise courses for clubs and dive centres. Contact National Coordinator Charlotte Bolton: or your nearest Seasearch co-ordinator if you would like to arrange for a course to be run for your club. To book onto one of the courses below please contact the organiser listed or use the online booking link.

Saturday 23rd February (course dives on Sunday 24th February) Middlewich, Cheshire Seasearch North-West - Wendy Northway
Saturday 9th March (course dives on Sunday 10th March) Bangor, Gwynedd North Wales Seasearch - Holly Date
Saturday 9th March (course dives on Sunday 10th March) Glasgow Seasearch Argyll - Owen Paisley
Saturday 13th April (course dives on Sunday 14th April) Marloes, Pembrokeshire Seasearch S&W Wales - Kate Lock
Thursday 25th April (course dives - date TBC) St. Helier, Jersey CI Jersey Seasearch - Kevin McIlwee
Saturday 27th April (course dives on Sunday 28th April) Portland, Dorset Dorset Seasearch - Lin Baldock
Saturday 27th April (course dives on Sunday 28th April) Truro, Cornwall Seasearch Cornwall - Matt Slater
Saturday 27th April (course dives on Sunday 5th May - hard boat from Dover) Maidstone, Kent Kent Seasearch - Fiona White
Saturday 4th May (course dives Sunday 5th May - hard boat from Lymington) Southampton Hampshire Seasearch - Cathryn Quick
Saturday 4th May (course dives on Sunday 5th May and during the following Manx Wildlife Week) St. John's, IOM Isle of Man Seasearch - Tony Glen
Saturday 11th May (course dives on Sunday 12th May - Book online) Henfield, Sussex Sussex Seasearch - Sarah Ward
Book online
Saturday 11th May (course dives in following days Sun-Tues, TBC) St. Peter Port, Guernsey CI Guernsey Seasearch - Laura Bampton
Saturday 25th May Portrush, Co. Antrim Seasearch NI - Sally Stewart-Moore
Saturday 25th May (course dives Sunday 26th May) Waterville, Co. Kerry Seasearch Ireland - Tony O'Callaghan
Saturday 25th May Dunstaffnage, Oban Seasearch Argyll - Owen Paisley
Saturday 8th June (course dives on Sunday 9th June) Portland, Dorset National Seasearch - Charlotte Bolton
Saturday 8th June Dundee Seasearch Argyll - Owen Paisley
Saturday 13th July (course dives on Saturday 13th/Sunday 14th July) Sheringham, Norfolk Seasearch East - Dawn Watson
Saturday 13th July (course dives on Sunday 14th July) Eyemouth Hippodrome (part of St. Abbs Volunteer Marine Reserve "Marine Month") Seasearch Scotland - Natalie Hirst
Saturday 13th July St. Peter Port, Guernsey CI Guernsey Seasearch - Laura Bampton
Saturday 3rd August St. Helier, Jersey CI Jersey Seasearch - Kevin McIlwee
Saturday 3rd August Reading, Berks National Seasearch - Charlotte Bolton
CANCELLED Saturday 31st August (course dives on Sunday 1st September) Plymouth area (exact venue TBC) Devon Seasearch - Chris Webb
CANCELLED Saturday 7th September (course dives/snorkels on Saturday 7th/Sunday 8th Sept.) Isle of Arran, Firth of Clyde Seasearch East - Dawn Watson


Seasearch Surveyor

The Surveyor Course is aimed at experienced Seasearch Observers and others with a good background knowledge of marine life and marine recording. The aim is to enable you to complete the Seasearch Survey Form which is used on most of the expeditionary Seasearch dives and which gives much more detailed information for future conservation purposes.

The course lasts two days and includes a dive on the second day. The Course concentrates on indentifying and classifying marine habitats, and on the priority species and habitats used to identify marine protected areas. Again we use video on the first day and you fill in practice forms both from the video and from the dive itself. The course is assessed and successful participants can carry on and become Seasearch Surveyors after completing a further five forms and an ID test.

The course dates currently emerging for 2019 are listed below and more can be arranged if there is sufficient demand. If you want to attend a course then please contact your local coordinator or let us know at and we will try to arrange courses in appropriate places.

Sat/Sun 30th/31st March 2019 Port St. Mary, Isle of Man National Seasearch - Charlotte Bolton
Sat/Sun 14th/15th March 2020 Eyemouth, Scottish Borders Seasearch Scotland - Natalie Hirst


Recorder Development Workshops

In response to survey feedback from Seasearch volunteers requesting greater support and mentoring, we are arranging local workshops for hand-on practice at form-filling with particular emphasis on local issues and priorities. Dives may or may not be arranged as part of the workshop depending on the time of year and/or boat availability etc. These workshops are open to all Seasearch volunteers whether Observer or Surveyor.

Saturday 8th June Bangor, Gwynedd North Wales Seasearch - Holly Date

Special Interest Courses

In addition to the Observer or Surveyor Courses we arrange special interest courses including general marine life identification as well as courses in things like fishes, seaweeds, anemones/corals and sea slugs. We can also run survey skills weekends for people who want to join in specialist projects.

To give you an idea of the level of each course (as they do vary) each course is identified as A (Advanced), Intermediate (I) or E (Everyone):

Advanced courses assume some previous knowledge of the topic and concentrate on expanding that - most suitable for those already recording at Surveyor level. Intermediate courses are for people with some existing knowledge which they want to improve on. They are most suitable for people wanting to become Seasearch Surveyors.

Everyone courses are designed for those just starting out on marine life ID and want to improve their knowledge or cover techniques and surveys that any competent diver can get involved with.

Most of the courses include diving but you can usually take part without diving if you wish.

Sat/Sun 23rd/24th March Seaweeds (E) Flamborough Head Jane Pottas Seasearch North-East - Paula Lightfoot
Saturday 11th May Sponges (I) Galway Atlantaquaria Maria Marra Seasearch Ireland - Tony O'Callaghan
Sat/Sun 18th/19th May Seaweeds (E) Dove Marine Lab., Cullercoats Jane Pottas Seasearch North-East - Paula Lightfoot
Sun 26th May Anemones (E) Groomsport, Co. Down Chris Wood Seasearch Northern Ireland - Sally Stewart-Moore
Sat/Sat 8th-15th June Nudibranch Photo Workshop & Dive Festival (E) Co. Galway Bernard Picton Seasearch Ireland - Tony O'Callaghan
Sat 15th June Underwater Photography (E) Swanage, Dorset Matt Doggett Seasearch - Charlotte Bolton
Sat/Sun 15th/16th June Sponges (E) Jersey Jen Jones Jersey Seasearch - Kevin McIlwee
Sun 30th June Underwater Photography (E) Portaferry Marine Lab. Bernard Picton Seasearch Northern Ireland - Sally Stewart-Moore
Sat 6th July Fish ID (E) Anglesey Sea Zoo Paul Kay North Wales Seasearch - Holly Date
Sat/Sun 17th/18th August Ascidians (E) National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth Sarah Bowen and David Kipling Devon Seasearch - Chris Webb
Sat/Sun 7th/8th September Anemones (E) Cornwall Wildlife Trust, nr. Truro Chris Wood Cornwall Seasearch - Matt Slater (book online)
Sat 5th October Sponges (E) Kent Wildlife Trust, nr. Maidstone Chris Spurrier Kent Seasearch - Kent WT (Alice Morley)


Course Costs

The cost of the courses vary depending on venue, costs incurred and if there is any local subsidy or diving involved. As a rough guide one-day courses cost £40-£50 and weekend courses, including diving, £80-£90. Contact the organisers for more details.

Participant feedback:

"I loved the course and have enjoyed all my dives since... It has certainly changed the way I view the marine world". (Observer Course, Dorset 2014)

"Thanks very much for the course....great experience and wonderful new dimension to my diving/snorkelling". (Surveyor Course, Newcastle 2018)


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