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In the early years of marine mammal observing for mitigation the capability of Marine Mammal Observers were highly variable, depending on their background, training and motivation. Industry and researchers wanted to understand what makes a good MMO in order to ensure that MMO’s employed achieved an acceptable standard.
In the UK, two people started a programme of research into the efficacy of MMOs; Dr Cath Owens (formerly, Southampton Solent University) and Andy Williams (formerly, BDRP). A team of researchers were involved in the three years of this study into the efficacy of MMOs and eventually finished the project with funding from the UK Royal Navy, UKHO, English Nature, JNCC and a number of other organisations.
This base line research investigated how effective MMOs were, and the incremental effects of quality training. Questions investigated included whether certain personality type’s best suited the role of an MMO and would visual perception have any effect on MMOs observations? Observations of MMOs were made in real time situations using a ships bridge simulator at Warsash Maritime College, data was collected from the following groups: experienced MMOs, untrained MMOs, trained MMOs and inexperienced MMO’s. The visual perception work led to eye drill training, (peripheral eye muscle training) and its effectiveness (Dr. Sherylle Calder: http://drsheryllecalder.com/about-eyegym/)
Scanning Ocean Sectors was formed in 2003 after 3 years of research into the effectiveness of Marine Mammal Observers. The foundation for the course was formulated on the backbone of the research, with the assistance of Dr Peter Evans (Sea Watch foundation), Ben Maughan (UK Hydrographic Office), Ed Harland (formerly QinetiQ, now Chickerell Bioacoustics), Graham Smith (formerly QinetiQ, Now SERCO) and Yvonne Miles (formerly Southampton Solent University, now, Scanning Ocean Sectors). The initial courses were first tested on and used for the training of Royal Navy personnel. The training proved very effective for the RN and assisted them in their aims of using best practice while on manoeuvres. The course evolved over the 3 years of research and changes took into account all the outcomes, resulting in a well-balanced course.
The MMO course was then standardised to provide what we consider to be the best professional training for an MMO. The standardisation ensures that each MMO trained by us will complete the course with all the most relevant up to date information, the MMO will be well equipped for all related industries and research. Our training ensures that all sightings data collected will be consistently professional and accurate. There is legal refresher unit training every 3 years to all students who have trained with us, to ensure continuing effectiveness.
The MMO course is available to take in any region during each year. The course is led by a team of experts, the company constantly monitor, reviewed and update the courses with help from feedback from the students and staff. The MMO course is approved by JNCC.
All our staff work collectively to create an academic, physical, emotional, social, and safe environment where everyone can learn. To create, support and maintain powerful, engaged learning in Marine Sciences and Marine Legislation. We choose to use innovative techniques to enhance learning through technology, the multiple intelligences, varied instructional strategies, and interdisciplinary units. We nurture growth, responsibility, and productivity by celebrating our diversity within a positive training atmosphere and by promoting communication on all levels, team spirit, and pride in ourselves through studies and our educational accomplishments. We strive to ensure students are confident, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable and assist them to achieve their greatest potential. We are committed to developing students who are resilient and adaptable, equipped with the knowledge, skills, and disposition to continue and fulfil their careers.

To create client confidence in our professional standards and professional working attitude by our trained students.

To meet environmental requirements and ensure compliance with mitigation including maintaining a positive environment.


Skills required of our trained students post course

From our Trained students:

To instil a good attitude, enthusiasm, concentrated effort when conducting watches.

A high standard, experience and ability to identify specific Species of Concern to occur within the region of the project and the ability to mitigate correct measures.

Total understanding of the mitigation requirements of the area or project, including the ability to make accurate estimates of range at sea. Including early detection of SoC in the field and the experience to gauge the behaviours and direction of said species. To have experience and understand the correct use of field equipment.

Ability to work in a team and communicate well, including the confidence and ability to make decisions quickly, to convey the necessary mitigation information to the crew concisely, politely, objectively and positively.

The collection of standardised, high-quality data in a timely and precis manner with experience of recording data, experience of assimilating data, basic data analysis and writing scientific reports.

To aspire to improve their skills as and to further their knowledge in their field.


We value and encourage innovation, creativity and commitment in achieving and sustaining a quality educational environment through continuous improvement.


We value others and ourselves as unique individuals and celebrate both our commonalities and differences. We promote open communication, ongoing collaboration and the free exchange of ideas.


We value mutual respect, honour the dignity of each individual and foster a civil and ethical environment


We value learning as a lifelong process and strive to adapt and be responsive to new challenges and opportunities.