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MERS Marine Mammal Naturalist Courses




This is a Marine Education and Research Society course on British Columbia's whale species and seals, sea lions, dolphins, porpoises and otters too! 

The aim of the course is to enable more people to inform and inspire marine mammal conservation.  This is intensive, crash training for those working (or hoping to work) as whale watch naturalists, kayak guides, park staff, or others interested in gaining a deeper knowledge of the natural history and conservation of BC's marine mammals. This is a 4-day course provided in-person. 

Please note that attendance for all sessions is mandatory. Successfully meeting these criteria will lead to a Certificate of Participation.  

**Must be at least 18 years old to attend the course**

Dates for 2023 Courses
Registration will open on December 1st to NIMMSA members
and on December 8th for all others.


Click links below for further details for the each Course and to register:

Port McNeill: Saturday, May 6 to Tuesday, May 9, 2023
Campbell River: Friday, May 12 to Monday, May 15, 2023


Optional Add-on: Apprentice Interpreter Course with the Interpretive Guides Association of Canada (IGA)

Take what you have learned in the MERS course and turn it into interpretive materials and programs that engage your audience!  

New this year, the Interpretive Guides Association of Canada (IGA) will be holding a 1-day Apprentice Interpreter course following the MERS Campbell River Course for those interested in obtaining interpretation training. For those that take BOTH courses, you will be issued an Apprentice Interpreter w/ a Marine Mammal Naturalist Specialty certification from the IGA. The IGA is offering a special price for their course to participants of the MERS course. The two courses are hosted separately but will occur sequentially to facilitate this unique learning experience and certification.  

Further details on the IGA course, click here. Registration for the IGA course will be available in December.


Subscribe to our Marine Mammal Naturalist Course Email Alerts below
to receive updates on future courses!

If you have any questions, please contact info@mersociety.org.

Cost: $625 ($300 non-refundable; remainder refundable up to 1 month prior to Course start date)

We are offering two bursaries for those who reside in B.C. and have a financial barrier to being able to attend but whose participation will strongly benefit local marine conservation / education. The bursary will cover the cost of the course and a Marine Mammals of British Columbia book (best resource to complement the content of the course).
The bursary deadline is January 15, 2023 and successful applicants will be notified by February 17, 2023.
For further details and to apply for the bursary, please click here.

Instructors: Jackie Hildering, Christie McMillan, Caitlin Birdsall and Leah Thorpe. See bios at this link.

Topics Covered:

  • Marine Biodiversity of BC - from plankton to giants
  • Classification of Marine Mammals
  • The Value of Being a Marine Mammal Naturalist
  • Seals and Sea Lions - natural history and conservation concerns
  • BC Killer Whale Populations - natural history and conservation concerns
  • Grey Whales - natural history and conservation concerns
  • Minke and Fin Whales - MERS research, natural history and conservation concerns
  • Dolphins and Porpoises - natural history and conservation concerns
  • The Return of Giants - MERS research into Humpback Whales
  • Sea Otters - natural history and conservation concerns
  • Identifying Marine Mammals in the Field
  • Summary of conservation concerns and solutions


Marine Mammal Naturalist Course Email Alerts

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All photos on this site © Jared Towers, Christie McMillan, Jackie Hildering, and Heidi Krajewsky, unless otherwise indicated. 
All content 
© 2022 Marine Education and Research Society.
Registered Canadian Charitable #: 85759-9112-RR0001

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