Whale Research Assistant

In this course you will obtain the skills required to assist a researcher on an observation vessel and be able to conduct scientific research in the field.

This certification is part of an internship program where you will support operations behind daily excursions and the data collation process. Your training will equip you with the abilities to identify different whales and dolphins around the Azores, take scientifically significant photos to be used as part of population and migration studies and begin to identify behavioral data points.


  • Minimum age 16
  • Highly recommended to obtain a camera (DSLR, Mirrorless with at least 300mm zoom)


  • Learn about whale biology
  • Learn about the ecology and life history of the cetaceans found in the Azores: migration, feeding habits, social behaviour, reproduction, etc.
  • Be able to identify the different Whales and Dolphins around the Azores
  • Understand the role of a look-out
  • Learn how to take a whale survey in the field and record data
  • Learn about the importance of Photo ID on whale research and how to collect scientifically usable ID data on the different cetacean species
  • Learn how to manage and catalogue the research database
  • Learn about conservation and current threats to whales and dolphins
  • Learn about the scientific whale research taking place in the Azores and how to contribute to whale studies around the globe
  • Learn about other whale hotspots around the globe and the other species of whales found there Learn basic boat skills and assist with boat duties including boat check and post trip clean down


  • Attend the 5 Whale Research Assistant lectures
  • Read all textbook chapters
  • Complete textbook chapter reviews
  • Complete the Whale Research Assistant exam and score at least 80%
  • Pass the group presentation task
  • Attend the practical briefing prior to the observation boat trip
  • Manage and Input into Database
  • Complete Whale Museum tour with given presentation
  • Demonstrate proper photo-ID techniques
  • Demonstrate a good level of boat management skills and competency
  • Complete at least 8 boat trips to attempt to find and observe cetaceans

Expected course time: 14+ days

Certification Card

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