Dates are being revised due to Covid-19

This field course is an intensive, comprehensive yet thoroughly enjoyable introduction to studying marine mammals. With dedicated vessel surveys, lab practicals, shore work and lectures that cover the whole spectrum of marine mammal science; this course is a one-of-kind experience into the world of whales, dolphins and seals led by experienced professionals. Their biology, physiology, ecology, conservation and sampling strategies will be detailed over the course by experts in different fields, with specific focus on practical sessions where data will be collected and analysed. These practicals include: a line-transect survey for birds and cetaceans, a seal colony behavioural study, an acoustic workshop, an otter diet analysis and a land-based observation for megafauna.

The Clyde is home to a wide variety of marine megafauna and is the perfect setting for observing mammals and birds in the wild. The use of the marine station’s research vessel RV Actinia, state-of-the-art lab facilities, comfortable lecture theatres and specialist equipment are an integral part of this course, along with the specialisms of the teaching staff involved.

Please note this course is aimed at those who are currently undertaking, or have recently undertaken, a degree in a relevant scientific discipline or those pursuing post-graduate studies. The course currently hosts regular undergraduate cohorts from the Universities of Glasgow and Stirling, but is also frequently attended by independent and visiting international students.

We anticipate that this course will run with between 10 and 50 participants.

Tutor: Chris Parsons

Dr Chris Parsons has been involved in whale and dolphin research for over two decades and has been involved in projects on every continent. He's been a member of the International Whaling Commission Scientific Committee for 20 years. Chris was an Associate Professor at George Mason University as well as the Director of their undergraduate program in environmental science. In addition, he has published over 170 scientific papers and book chapters and has written a textbook on marine mammal biology and conservation and hosts/produces several top ranking marine conservation science podcasts.

Tutor: Dominic McCafferty

Dr Dominic McCafferty joined the University of Glasgow in 1999 and since then has undertaken a range of studies on vertebrates with a particular interest in physiological ecology. His current research deals with cold adaptation, behavioural thermoregulation and stress-related temperature responses of birds and mammals. Dominic is Editor in Chief of Ibis ( and an Editorial Board member for the Journal of Thermal Biology (

Tutor: Jack Lucas

Jack Lucas is a knowledgeable marine biologist having conducted marine mammal research in four countries, and with a degree in the subject. He is also a qualified Passive Acoustic Monitoring operator and Marine Mammal Observer. He has a passion for birds and marine orgnanisms, and works on Cumbrae as an FSC tutor for much of the year so knows the local sites well.

Tutor: Anna McGregor

Dr Anna McGregor, a lecturer at Glasgow University, with a research background focussed on the use of sound in marine mammals and the potential for anthropogenic noise to cause physiologically relevant disturbance. More recently, Anna’s work has included studying the effects of noise on other animals as well as those in freshwater environments, and the use of acoustics to monitor cryptic animals in a number of habitats.

What's Included

  • Expert Tuition
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • Full Board Accommodation
  • Hot and Cold Drinks
  • In Course Transport
  • Personal and Travel Insurance