Learn how to record your underwater sightings correctly to make them count for marine conservation

Whether you have taken part in a marine recording project before or not, you can add to your knowledge and experience by taking part in one of our training courses. You just need to be interested in the marine environment and keen to learn more.

The emphasis is on enjoying your diving and snorkelling – by understanding more about what you are seeing underwater, then telling us about it. The courses are fun and contain a mix of illustrated talks, practical sessions and virtual dives on video to practice newly learned skills.

If you are new to this sort of diving or snorkelling, take the introductory Observer Course.  These are run all around Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands.

There are also higher-level Surveyor Courses for those with more experience plus a range of other courses covering survey techniques, marine life identification and some of the ‘difficult-to-identify’ groups of marine life.

Seasearch courses

Seasearch Observer

for divers/snorkellers new to marine recording in British and Irish waters

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Seasearch Surveyor

for experienced recorders who want to increase the value of the results

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Recorder Workshops

mentoring and support for Seasearch recorders at all levels

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Specialist Courses

ID and techniques courses for those who want to expand their knowledge

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Check out the dates for our next courses

Seasearch Observer

Duration: 8 hours (online or in person)

Cost: Around £80-85

(Cost includes a copy of The Diver's Guide to Marine Life or another field guide)

Course content: 

  • Find out about the Seasearch project
  • Gain a basic grounding in marine recording
  • Learn how to recognise and classify marine habitats
  • Learn how to complete the Seasearch Observation Form by watching a ‘video dive’

This is an introductory course aimed at giving divers and snorkellers new to the project and new to marine recording a basic grounding. The formal teaching part lasts approximately 8 hours which may be covered in one day, a weekend or split over a number of evening sessions. Homework/hands-on sessions ensure that participants have an opportunity to practice what has been covered in a session.

At the end of the course, you'll get a Seasearch Qualification booklet. Once you have completed five forms for real (two on dives with a tutor available to help) you will be a qualified Seasearch Observer and able to take part in Seasearch dives or snorkels.

Seasearch Surveyor

Duration: Up to 8 hour (online or in person) plus 1 day diving where possible

Cost: Around £100 + diving costs

Course content: 

  • Learn how to recognise and classify marine habitats in more detail
  • Learn about priority species and habitats used to identify marine protected areas
  • Learn how to complete the Seasearch Surveyor forms after a real dive

The Surveyor Course is aimed at experienced Seasearch Observers and others with established background knowledge of marine life and marine recording. The aim is to enable you to complete the Seasearch Survey form which gives much more detailed information about the area you surveyed.

We’ll use videos to help us make the link between what you see underwater and how to record it. You will practice filling in forms both from the videos and from the dive itself.

The course is assessed and successful participants will become qualified Seasearch Surveyors after completing a further five forms and an ID test.

Recorder Development Workshops

These local-based workshops offer volunteers support and mentoring throughout their Seasearch journey. They offer hands-on practice at recording and form-filling with particular emphasis on local issues and priorities.

If you have encountered any problems while recording for Seasearch, let your coordinator know and they may be able to include this in the workshop (and they’re always happy to offer advice and feedback!).

The workshops are open to all Seasearch volunteers, whether Observer or Surveyor, and may or may not include dives depending on the time of year and boat availability.

Specialist courses

Our special interest courses include general marine life identification as well as for specific taxa such as fish, seaweeds, anemones/corals and sea slugs. We also run survey skills weekends for people who want to join in specialist projects. These courses are delivered in person rather than online. 

Courses are rated Advanced (A), Intermediate (I) or Everyone (E).

  • 'Advanced' courses assume some previous knowledge of the topic and concentrate on expanding that. Suitable for those already recording at Surveyor level.
  • 'Intermediate' courses are for people with some existing knowledge which they want to improve on. Suitable for those wanting to become Seasearch Surveyors.
  • 'Everyone' courses are designed for those just starting out on marine life ID and wanting to improve their knowledge and techniques. Suitable for any competent diver.

Course dates

We try to run the courses early in the year so that people have the maximum time to be out and recording, but autumn/winter courses are also arranged.

Additional courses will be added if/when there is sufficient demand. We can also organise courses for clubs and dive centres. To enquire about additional courses, contact National Coordinator Charlotte Bolton (email [email protected]) or your nearest Seasearch coordinator

To sign up for a course... the relevant course organiser (see below).

Divers filling out Survey forms after a dive
Sponge spicules viewed under a microscope

Things aren't clear?

If you still aren't sure how to get training, or what it means, get in touch now...

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Image by Georgie Bull