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. Four types of Seasearch training are currently available:

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

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

Recorder Workshops - mentoring and support for all recorders

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 & snorkellers 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/snorkels 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)

Dates for Observer Courses are beginning to appear for 2020. 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. 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 8th February (course dives TBC) University of Edinburgh Seasearch Scotland - Natalie Hirst
Saturday 4th April (course dives on Sunday 5th April) Redcar, Teeside Seasearch NE England - Natalie Hirst
Saturday 4th April (course dives on Sunday 5th April) South Skye Seasearch Argyll - Owen Paisley
Saturday 18th April (course dives on Sunday 19th April) Portland, Dorset Dorset Seasearch - Lin Baldock
Saturday 18th April (course dives on Sunday 19th April) Truro, Cornwall Seasearch Cornwall - Online booking
Saturday 2nd May (course dives on Sunday 3rd May) Fort Bovisand, Plymouth Devon Seasearch - Chris Webb
Saturday 2nd May (course dives on Sunday 3rd May) Swanage, Dorset Nautical Archaeology Society (Peta Knott) - Online booking
Saturday 16th May Ulster Wildlife, Belfast Seasearch NI - Sally Stewart-Moore
Saturday 23rd May St. Peter Port, Guernsey CI Guernsey Seasearch - Laura Bampton
Saturday 23rd May (course dives on Sunday 24th May) Ullapool Seasearch Argyll - Owen Paisley
Saturday 6th June (course dives on Sunday 7th June) Fort Widley, Portsmouth Seasearch - Charlotte Bolton
Saturday 27th June (course dives on Sunday 28th June) Beadnell, Northumberland Nautical Archaeology Society (Peta Knott) - Online booking
Saturday 11th July (course dives on Saturday 11th/Sunday 12th July) Sheringham, Norfolk 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 for 2019 and 2020 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 14th/15th March 2020 Eyemouth, Scottish Borders Seasearch - Charlotte Bolton
Sat/Sun 25th/26th April 2020 Greenore, Co. Louth Seasearch NI - Sally Stewart-Moore
Sat/Sun 30th/31st May 2020 St. Peter Port, Guernsey CI Guernsey Seasearch - Laura Bampton


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 recording and 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 April 25th Woods Mill, Sussex Seasearch - Charlotte Bolton

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), I (Intermediate) 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.

Date Subject (level) Location Tutor(s) Contact
Sun 24th May 2020 Anemones and Corals (E) St. Peter Port, Guernsey CI Chris Wood Guernsey Seasearch - Laura Bampton
Sat/Sun 20th/21st June 2020 Sea squirt safari (I) Portrush, Co. Antrim Sarah Bowen & David Kipling Seasearch NI - Sally Stewart-Moore
Sat/Sun 18th/19th July 2020 Marine Life ID (E) Sheringham, Norfolk Dawn Watson & Rob Spray Seasearch East - Dawn Watson
Sat/Sun 12th/13th September 2020 Sponges (I) St. Abbs Jen Jones Seasearch Scotland - Natalie Hirst
Sat/Sun 12th/13th September 2020 Polychaetes for Divers! (E) Portland, Dorset Teresa Darbyshire Seasearch - Charlotte Bolton


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 (which may include diving) £90-£120. 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)

"Well-presented and accessible for people with or without prior experience :-) ". (Observer Course, Guernsey 2019)

"It was fantastic - really interesting and very detailed with clear examples and thorough explanations". (Observer Course, Sussex 2019)


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