Marine Mammal Medic Course

Apneists UK sent several club member to do the Marine Mammal Medic course recently

On the 15th July 2023 we had a great day doing the marine mammal medic course with the BDMLR. 4 club members did the course.
A bit about the course for anyone interested

British Divers Marine Life Rescue

A Marine Mammal Medic Course is a fun way to learn new skills to help injured or ill marine animals 
BDMLR’s Marine Mammal Medic Course is a fun, full day practical training programme, backed up by online video lectures that allows you to directly help marine mammals in trouble.

BDMLR’s Marine Mammal Medic Course (MMMC) is open to anyone over the age of 18 and you do not have to be a diver. It is a full day training programme designed to provide you with the basic knowledge, skills and expertise to enable our volunteer teams to respond to a callout and act on behalf of that animal’s best welfare interests. On completion of the course you are added to BDMLR’s Marine Mammal Medic database, which is used to alert medics of nearby animals in distress. However, even if you do not live by the sea, it is a fun way to learn the correct first aid techniques to help marine mammals should you come upon an animal needing help.

Course details:

  • The course has lecture (online) and practical components covering whale, dolphin and seal rescue techniques
  • First year subscription and third party insurance are included in the course fee
  • There is no requirement to be a diver or have specific qualifications
  • Due to the physical nature of the course you will need a certain level of fitness
  • Over 18s only
  • Wet and dry courses available to book (please read the details of each course carefully)

Course structure

The day of the course is a full practical session and run outdoors so suitable clothing (drysuit [preferred] or wetsuit) is required. However, before the practical day you will need to complete three online lectures. These are online videos specifically designed to give you an understanding of marine mammal biology, health assessment, first aid and decision making. When you sign up for the course you will receive a link to the videos and can watch them at your leisure as many times as you like before and after the practical session.

The first lecture is about marine mammal biology, and seal and cetacean (whale, dolphin and porpoise) identification. The second lecture is about cetacean physiology, first aid and rescue techniques. The third lecture is on seal physiology, first aid and rescue techniques. Important health and safety points are noted throughout these too.

Practical session
There are ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ courses, which will be specified on the specific course details. A ‘dry’ course (often held during the winter), does not require delegates to enter the water. However, if you are attending a ‘wet’ course the practical modules are held on a beach (fresh water or salt water) and trainees will be getting in the water.

Delegates on a ‘wet’ course require a dry or wet suit as you will be in and out the water during training. If you are going to be wearing a wetsuit, please ensure you have trainers or boots (not wellingtons) that you do not mind getting wet. You should also take a windproof jacket, plus a hat and gloves to stop yourself getting chilled on the beach. In sunny weather, please ensure you use sun protection.

The specified course date is a practical day at an outside venue. Full details of how the course will run will be given during a morning briefing (course structure can vary depending on location). However, as a general rule the practical session is split into three modules:

Seal rescue
Trainees are taught how to assess, give first aid, handle and lift an injured or stranded seal pup safely. Each delegate will have the chance to try out their newly learned skills on a life sized model seal pup.

Dolphin rescue
Trainees are taught how to assess a stranded dolphin or porpoise on the beach. They are then taught cetacean first aid skills plus handling and lifting techniques using a life-sized, water-filled model dolphin.

Whale rescue
Using BDMLR’s specialist lifting pontoons, trainees learn how to refloat a two tonne, life-sized model pilot whale. The model is filled with water and very life-like. It is not unusual to have members of the public offer to help as they believe it is real!

The course will, at an appropriate point, break for lunch. Lunch is not provided, but where possible the course details will give information on places to buy food, although participants are encouraged to bring their own food and drink.

The course finishes when everyone has completed each module, usually about 4.00pm. After which, there is a final de-briefing where a course pack is handed out to delegates.

The course pack includes:

  • A Marine Mammal Medic Handbook
  • A Medic photo-ID card (This will be digital from 2024)
  • A Marine Mammal Medic woven badge and car stickers
  • A certificate proving you have completed the course

The course fee includes hire of a lifejacket, your first year’s subscription to BDMLR and third party insurance cover while on rescues.

I would thoroughly recomend this course, you never know when the skills will come in useful especially if you spend time near the coast