We've been training marine naturalists since 1994.

Our marine naturalist training course is an intensive 6-day overview of the natural history of the San Juan Islands and the marine waters of Washington and Southern British Columbia (know as the Salish Sea). This course includes an in-depth treatment of the ecology and conservation of local marine species, presented by highly trained local naturalists, environmental educators and scientists. A mix of lectures and field trips provides a hands-on learning experience that leaves graduates qualified as a regional professional or volunteer naturalist.

Continuing education credits through Western Washington University are available with advanced arrangement. You can also earn a Whale Museum naturalist certification by completing an extra 10-hour practicum, which can be arranged during this course.

Come Interested, Leave Qualified

The Pacific Whale Watch Association has endorsed this course for naturalist certification, and some whale watching and kayak companies look for graduates of this course when hiring. Completion of this course entitles you to become a member of the Salish Sea Association of Marine Naturalists (SSAMN), which was formed in 2008.

Course Registration

The next training program will be scheduled in the spring of 2015. For more information or to sign up for the waiting list, please email Cindy Hansen at cindy@whalemuseum.org. 

 Tuition for each 6-day course is $375 and includes the following:

  • Six class sessions (lectures and on location).
  • A boat-based marine field trip.
  • All class materials.
  • An Orca Adoption.
  • A membership (1 year) to the Whale Museum.

A minimum deposit of $175 must be paid at the time of registration to ensure your space in the program. Registered participants will also get a 15% discount from our store.

Registration applications are processed in the order they are received. You will be notified with a confirmation letter once your registration has been processed. This course has a maximum class size 24 students, so please register quickly!

Refund Policy

All deposits are refundable up until 2 weeks from the start date of your course. Within 2 weeks, we can only provide refunds if your space in the program is filled from our waiting list. The Whale Museum reserves the right to cancel any program at any time. In the event of a cancellation, you will be issued a full refund.

Arranging Transportation

This course meets at the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor (click here for help finding us). Transportation for field trips is provided by The Whale Museum so it is not necessary to bring your car to Friday Harbor. Parking is available at the Anacortes Ferry Terminal for a fee, and you can contact the Washington State Ferries for details. Carpools are encouraged and we can help get you in touch with other students for that purpose, if you wish.

What To Expect

Lectures will take place in a classroom setting, but fields trips will be taken around the parks, shorelines and waters of San Juan Island and Orcas Island. You should be prepared for a variety of conditions including wind, cold, rain and sun. On field trip days, we suggest that you also bring:

  • A sack lunch and water
  • Camera
  • Binoculars
  • Field Guides
  • Sunscreen

Feel free to contact us at any time with questions.

Want to get involved, stay informed and be engaged?