We've been training marine naturalists since 1994.

Our marine naturalist training course (MNTP) is an intensive multi-day overview of the natural history of the San Juan Islands and the marine waters of Washington and Southern British Columbia (known 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. The 2024 spring and summer sessions will be dynamic, high-quality hybrid experiences that leave graduates qualified as a regional professional or volunteer naturalist.

Come Interested, Leave Qualified

Both 2024 sessions will be a hybrid of virtual learning and optional in-person field trips. Participants can earn a Whale Museum naturalist certification by completing an extra 10-hour practicum, which can be arranged during this course. Participants don’t have to participate in the field trips to be eligible for the certification. Completion of this course also entitles you to become a member of the Salish Sea Association of Marine Naturalists (SSAMN). Clock hour credits are available.

The Whale Museum’s Marine Naturalist Training Program will enhance your opportunity to work as a naturalist or take advantage of volunteer opportunities. Presentations will include detailed information on the orca whales and other marine mammals and seabirds of the Salish Sea. This session will be a mixture of virtual lectures and optional in-person field trips. Hands-on learning and field identification will be emphasized during the field trip portion. Instructors are Whale Museum staff, regional professionals, marine scientists and environmental educators.

Dates of 2024 Sessions:

Spring Session:
Virtual Presentations (approximately 9-5 Pacific time): April 9-13, 2024
Optional: In-Person Field Trips on San Juan Island: April 26-28, 2024 (must have completed MNTP to participate)

Summer Session:
Virtual Presentations (approximately 9-5 Pacific time): July 9-13, 2024
Optional: In-Person Field Trips on San Juan Island: July 19-21, 2024 (must have completed MNTP to participate)

Register Here.

Price and What Is Included:

Virtual Program Tuition Rates:
• $450 Member Rate (for members of The Whale Museum/Orca Adopters)
• $500 Non-Member Rate (includes membership/Orca Adoption)

Tuition includes class sessions (lectures) and all class materials.

In-Person Field Trip Participation Fee:
• $350 Member Rate (for members of The Whale Museum/Orca Adopters/SSAMN)
• $400 Non-Member Rate (includes membership/Orca Adoption/SSAMN)

Field Trip Fee includes an opening reception; transportation during the field trips to/from The Whale Museum and field trip sites; light breakfast, lunches and snacks during field trip days; all class materials. Field trips will include: kayaking or a marine wildlife boat trip; birding; a geology hike; visits to San Juan County Land Bank/False Bay/West side areas and Lime Kiln Point State Park; as well as tours of Friday Harbor Laboratories, The Whale Museum, and Lime Kiln Point State Park Lighthouse.

All MNTP class days are full days (going approximately 9 am-5 pm Pacific Time). Please note: participants are responsible for their own accommodations and travel to SJI if needed. There are only 29 spots available for the field trip portion per session so don't wait to reserve your spot!

For the virtual portion, a limited number of Diversity & Inclusion scholarships are available (to apply, click here). If applying for the scholarship, do not make a registration payment.

For more information, contact: Tracie Merrill at tracie@whalemuseum.org or (360) 378-4710 ext. 23.




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