JNCC MMO Mini Cruise

course thumbnailExperience the wonder of dolphins and whales first-hand on a three-day mini-cruise across the internationally renowned Bay of Biscay as part of our JNCC-accredited Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) course.

Whether you want to work as an MMO, or you are simply keen to learn more about UK marine mammals, this superb cruise affords the opportunity to experience a large range of UK species including extensive pods of dolphins, baleen whales and rare and elusive beaked whales.



About the Course

This three-day course will equip delegates with the practical skills required to be a successful Marine Mammal Observer. It is ideal for anyone aspiring to a career in marine mammal observation as well as those in industry who might work alongside an MMO and want to get a better understanding of the role. Equally, if you’re not interested in gaining a qualification and are just fascinated by the marine environment, there is an option to simply join the cruise and learn about the habitats and wildlife of the Bay of Biscay. For those working to the JNCC-accredited MMO professional qualification, the course starts in the classroom with a comprehensive look at the MMO role. Then it’s time to put the theory straight into practice and get a real insight into offshore life as you join our minicruise departing Portsmouth in the early evening. Over the next two days you will gain valuable practical skills in real-time mitigation and the use of the JNCC recording forms in the field. During the crossing to Santander you will encounter an array of habitats, including Hurd Deep, the Continental Slope, Biscay Abyssal Plain and the Submarine Canyons, and encounter a wide range of UK species including extensive pods of dolphins, baleen whales and rare and elusive beaked whales. After a couple of hours in Santander you will then board the vessel for your return journey to Plymouth again using your time at sea to gain invaluable practical experience. This course is accredited by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) and delegates who complete the course will be professionally qualified as an MMO and will receive a certificate for offshore work. All MMOs working in the UK Continental Shelf are required to have been trained on a JNCC-accredited course.

Course requirements

Delegates should have a scientific background and have a keen interest in marine mammals


Day 1 (classroom)

  • Anthropogenic Noise in the Sea
  • Effects of Noise on Marine Mammal
  • Legislative Background
  • Role of the MMO NCC Mitigation in Practice: Seismic Surveys, Vertical Seismic Profiling, Piling and Explosives
  • ID of UK Marine Mammals Reporting Requirements

Day 2 and 3 (onboard vessel)

  • Reporting Requirements
  • Recording Forms in Practice
  • MMO and ID in Practice
  • Life Onboard


SB expertSmall

Stephanie Barnicoat has extensive experience working offshore as a consultant, carrying out visual and acoustic surveys on seismic exploration projects, windfarm installations and in marine mammal research around the world. She has in-depth knowledge of PAM hardware systems and PAMGUARD software. In her spare time, she is a member of the British Diver Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) team where she assists in the rescue and rehabilitation of abandoned or injured seal pups and other marine wildlife. Steph has an MSc in Biological Diversity and a BSc in Marine Biology and Zoology.

Loraine Grantsmall






Loraine Grant has several years’ experience working as an offshore environmental representative on seismic exploration projects as an MMO and PAM Operator. She has an MSc in Environmental Science and a BSc (Hons) in zoology from University College Dublin, Ireland.

What Next?

Delegates who have completed the JNCC MMO course often progress to the 3-day Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) Level 1 course. PAM provides MMOs with an additional tool to detect marine mammal species. The PAM Level 1 course will equip you with the skills required to become an offshore PAM operator while widening your knowledge of acoustic monitoring and increasing your understanding of industry requirements for environmental mitigation.

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  • Marine Acoustics Course

    “All sections of the course were really useful”

  • PAM

    “A good introductory course, thank you”

  • Marine Acoustics Course

    “Paul and Victor brilliant Lecturers”

  • Marine Acoustics Course

    “The whole course has been really interesting, well presented and enjoyable”

  • PAM

    “Fun course!”

  • PAM

    “Great practical’s”

  • Marine Acoustics Course

    “Highlight of the course is the quality if the instructors”

  • Marine Acoustics Course

    “Excellent lecturers, very passionate and well prepared. Excellent material provided! Nice small groups-good discussions! Excellent venue, facilities and catering”

  • Marine Acoustics Course

    “Thorough explanation of standards and terminology”

  • Marine Acoustics Course

    “I think it is quite effective as an introduction on physical aspects”

  • Protected species observer course

    “Stephanie was great. She kept us engaged. Excellent material!”

  • Marine Acoustics Course

    “Teacher’s knowledge, course materials and presentation. Refreshments were very good!”

  • Protected species observer course

    “Wonderful course, thank you!”