Marine mammals are known across the world for their beauty and nature and their conservation has become a focus for many. During this beginner course, you will be introduced to historical and modern-day threats facing marine mammals across the world and here in the UK.

The plight of our marine environments and the mammals dwelling there is a key issue of our time. Learn about this important current affair from leading marine conservation experts.

What will be covered during this course?

  • Importance of Marine Mammals
  • Threats to Marine Mammals
  • Marine Mammals and Pollution
  • Conservation Strategies

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This course has been developed by leading marine experts, ORCA. During this course, you will learn about the important role these animals play within the ecosystem and how humans are now trying to protect them for future generations. By the end of this course, you will have a clear understanding of threats facing marine mammals and the part you can play in their protection

This is a 4-week online course covering 4 topics, for which you will complete a variety of self-led online resources and activities. Each topic is then concluded with an interactive Zoom workshop to complement the online content. Time commitment is approximately 2-3 hours a week and an E-certificate is provided upon completion. Understand how our online courses are delivered.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Describe why marine mammals are important for the whole ocean ecosystem.
  • Identify and explain current threats to marine mammals in the UK.
  • Explain the issues surrounding marine mammals and pollution.
  • Discuss examples of conservation efforts to protect marine mammals around the UK coastline.
  • Share this knowledge with friends, family and fellow volunteers.

Who Should Attend? – Nature enthusiasts, Students, Rangers, Early career ecologists.

Knowledge Level – Beginner. Level descriptors can be found on the following webpage: Framework and Course Level Descriptors

Prior Knowledge – Existing knowledge and understanding of basic marine terminology would be beneficial for this course.

Live Webinar Information

There are 4 webinars for this course, taking place at the end of each week. Please see the date listing below for the day and time.

Please note – webinars will be recorded and uploaded to the virtual learning platform for learners unable to attend.

About our partner Orca

With their unique take on marine conservation, ORCA is a charity that is entirely dedicated to studying and protecting whales, dolphins and porpoises in the UK and European waters.

They work to identify and protect critical whale and dolphin habitats in UK waters and beyond. The identification of important whale and dolphin habitats is carried out by ORCA’s Marine Mammal Survey Teams, who are all volunteers. This is what makes them so unique. It is their own volunteer teams on board ferries and cruise ships in European waters that conduct the monthly scientific surveys, recording the species they see, where they are and what they are doing. Using the data these teams collect, ORCA can help create safer spaces and a safer future for whales and dolphins.

Please note that bookings will close 24 hours before the start date to allow for all participants to be enrolled to the online platform – bookings will not be taken after this time.

About the Tutor

Anna Bunney

Anna Bunney is the Head of Education for UK marine conservation charity ORCA, and manages the outreach and education parts of ORCA’s programmes. A geographer by training and wildlife conservationist by trade, Anna is particularly fascinated with marine mammals and has a particular soft spot for humpback whales!

Example Timetable


Week 1: Importance of Marine Mammals
Self-study material available at start date
Week 1 live webinar

Week 2: Threats to Marine Mammals
Self-study material available after week 1 webinar
Week 2 live webinar

Week 3: Marine Mammals and Pollution
Self-study material available after week 2 webinar
Week 3 live webinar

Week 4: Conservation Strategies
Self-study material available after week 3 webinar
Week 4 live webinar

The final deadline to complete any outstanding activities and self-study components is 2 weeks after Week 4 webinar

Time commitment: This course will require approximately 2 - 3 hours of your time each week. This includes covering course materials on our Moodle learning platform and attending the Zoom session

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition

The course has been carefully created to help you continue to build and develop your knowledge as the course progresses. With content crafted to the online Moodle Platform and bespoke to the Field Studies Council.

The course includes:

  • 45-minute interactive weekly Zoom workshops to connect with the tutor and other participants
  • Expert tuition for which the Field Studies Council is renowned
  • Activities to work on independently in advance of each Zoom workshop
  • Tailored course completion certificate

Once registered, you will follow well-illustrated, user-friendly ’books’ to pick up knowledge. Quizzes and skill checks will give you instant feedback on your learning. Forums give students the chance to interact with each other as well as a place to share work.


  • ★★★★

    The first week about the importance of marine mammals was very fascinating

  • ★★★★★

    Everything has been great. It’s flexible with regards to timings, but still gives deadlines so I don’t just think, I will leave it until another day!
    The whole experience has been great. Good information, tutor available for questions, easy communication. Most important for me, I didn’t find the tech side of things difficult! I’m not good with tech but managed just fine.

  • ★★★★

    I really enjoyed the whole course. I learnt a lot, I also found the layout and section by section learning really useful. Plus the end of each section tested the knowledge provided, whether through questions or activity.

  • ★★★★

    I enjoyed all the case studies about different species

  • ★★★★★

    Good content, some challenging activities and great presenter

  • ★★★★

    the zoom calls were great, unfortunately I was busy at the times they were live but rewatching them was a very useful resource!

  • ★★★★★

    I had some knowledge about the various subjects within the learning materials but I really appreciated the way in which everything was pulled together to link the importanceof marine mammasl, the threats they are facing and some of the conservation efforts to protect these amazing animals.

Bursaries and Subsidies

Student Discount

This course is eligible for a student discount. If you are a current student, please use discount code BioStudent20 at checkout for 20% off all Biodiversity courses.

Before You Attend

Accessing Your Course

  • Once you sign up you’ll receive an email at least 24 hours in advance of the course opening with details of how to access our easy-to-use platform, Moodle.
  • Moodle can be accessed through a browser or an app.
  • Webinars are via Zoom so you won’t need any new software to attend

Recommended Equipment

The following is not mandatory but will help you within this course:

  • Hand lens
  • Wildflower Identification guide - Recommended: The Wild Flower Key by Francis Rose or Collins Wildflower Guide by David Streeter

Opportunities to attend this course

This course is not currently available to book. Dates will follow soon.

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Progress Your Learning

This is a training course from the Field Studies Council, delivered by expert tutors with an approachable learning style. After attending this course, you may like to progress your learning with further relevant courses or branch out into other areas of natural history. The Field Studies Council offers both online and in person courses, so you can choose the learning style that suits you best.

The course gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new subject and acquire novel skills. Our online portal gives you time to study at your own pace and fit the lessons around your own schedule.

If you have any questions about our online courses please check our Frequently Asked Questions
Please email [email protected] if you have any questions.

Group Bookings Made Easy

If you have a group of 10 or more individuals wanting to complete one of our courses, our team are available to discuss your options – from discounts to private team courses. Find out more!

You can rest assured that the absolute best content from an expert in environmental education will be at your fingertips. In choosing a Field Studies Council course, you will be joining thousands of people who learn with us each year.