Become a Seasearch volunteer
Image by Matt Slater
- Do you dive or snorkel in Britain and Ireland?
- Are you looking for a new challenge in your diving?
- Do you want to help protect the best of British and Irish marine life?
- Do you wish you knew more about what you are seeing underwater?
If this sounds like you, then dive in and take part in Seasearch
Why should I become a Seasearch volunteer?
Seasearch is fun – and it's important. It is a great way to meet like-minded people who are interested in diving and marine wildlife. Many of our volunteers are keen underwater photographers and the dive surveys are a fantastic way to improve your knowledge of marine species.
Data gathered by our volunteers has already made a big difference to how much we know about our coastal habitats and marine species. The more information we have, the better able we are to identify specific sites of conservation concern.
"I have been diving for 21 years and this is going to transform my diving." Seasearch volunteer
How does Seasearch work?
Seasearch is a national project set up by the Marine Conservation Society, but is co-ordinated by local co-ordinators, wildlife trusts and organisations around Britain and Ireland. Volunteers help us gather information about the health of our ocean by filling in our survey forms after they dive.
If you're a qualified diver, you can take part on recreational dives with your buddy, club dives or on Seasearch organised dives and expeditions. Any dive can be a Seasearch dive!
How to get involved in Seasearch
A good place to start is by contacting the Seasearch coordinator for your area. A list can be found on the About page. Drop them a line to find out what’s involved and what training you will need – we’re a friendly bunch and always looking for new volunteers.
Once you are qualified, you can either collect records during your own dives or you can join one of the trips organised by Seasearch. Seasearch trips are organised by local coordinators or our partners and are are listed on the Organised Surveys page.
What training do I need?
You don't have to be an expert because we'll teach you everything you need to know. You just need to be interested in the marine environment and keen to learn more.
If you're new to the project and new to marine recording, you'll need to take our Seasearch Observer course. After this, you'll 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.
We also run a series of training courses and special interest workshops for more experienced volunteers.
Do I need to be a qualified diver?
Minimum qualifications required to take part in Seasearch organised dives are BSAC/ScotSAC Sports Diver, PADI Advanced Open Water Diver, SAA Club Diver or CMAS 2 Star equivalent.
You also need to have done at least 20 dives, of which 10 should have been in temperate sea water.
Seasearch is not a diver training organisation and we insist that you do not dive beyond your previous level of experience on our dives. For some dives, greater experience levels may be required, depending on the likely conditions.
What sort of surveys will I be doing?
After completing a dive or snorkel, volunteers record what they saw on one of our Seasearch forms.
Observation Forms are the simplest and can be completed after any dive. You'll be asked for information about the habitat and seabed cover types you saw, as well as the main marine species. It takes about 15-30 minutes to complete.
Survey Forms involve a more detailed level of recording and require higher-level Surveyor training.
Q. Do I need to have insurance?
A. You will need to have a diving medical certificate or a Sports Diver medical self-declaration and have 3rd party diving insurance. Our liability insurance restricts organised Seasearch surveys to 30m depth, carried out as NDL dives and with a buddy pair. Our insurance currently does not cover snorkel surveys (but this may change in the future given sufficient interest).
Q. Do I need to be part of a club to take part?
A. No - as long as you've completed our Seasearch Observer course you can fill in the forms independently.
Q. Does Seasearch run diver training courses?
A. No - Seasearch is not a diver training organisation and we insist that you do not dive beyond your previous level of experience on our dives.
Q. How much does training cost?
A. Courses cost around £75-£100. (Discounts might be offered through your local dive club or organisation.) The cost of an Observer Course includes a copy of The Diver's Guide to Marine Life of Britain and Ireland which is also available to buy from our online shop.
Q. How much does it cost to take part in a Seasearch survey?
A. Taking part in the survey is free, so it's just the cost of the dive (equipment hire, boat hire, etc).
Q. Can I do some surveys if not a qualified diver - e.g. by snorkelling in shallow water?
A. Yes, you can do snorkel surveys provided you have completed the Seasearch training.
Q. Is the Observer training course a minimum requirement for all volunteers? Are there any exceptions, e.g. if I'm a marine biologist?
A. Yes, all volunteers must have completed the Observer course as a minimum requirement.