We've been training marine naturalists since 1994.

Our marine naturalist training course (MNTP) is an intensive 7 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 upcoming spring session will be a dynamic, high-quality virtual experience that leaves graduates qualified as a regional professional or volunteer naturalist. 

Come Interested, Leave Qualified

The Spring 2023 Program will be a Hybrid of Virtual Learning and optional In-Person Field Trips. You can still earn a Whale Museum naturalist certification by completing an extra 10-hour practicum, which can be arranged during this course. Completion of this course also entitles you to become a member of the Salish Sea Association of Marine Naturalists (SSAMN).

Course Registration

Spring Session Dates:

Virtual Presentations (approximately 9-5 Pacific time): April 18-22, 2023

In-Person Field Trips on San Juan Island: April 24 & 25, 2023 (must complete MNTP to participate)

Class days will mostly be full days, starting around 9am and ending around 5:00 pm Pacific time. Please refer all questions to Tracie Merrill, Education Curator, by email.

Virtual Program Tuition Rates:

  • $425 Member Rate (for members of The Whale Museum/Orca Adopters)
  • $475 Non-Member Rate (includes membership/Orca Adoption)

Tuition includes the following:

  • Five class sessions (lectures).
  • All class materials.

A limited number of Diversity & Inclusion scholarships are available (to apply, click here).

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)

Fee includes the following:

  • Opening Reception
  • Transportation during the Field Trips to/from The Whale Museum & field trip sites
  • Light Breakfast, lunches and snacks during field trip days
  • All class materials.

Registration applications are processed in the order they are received. You will be notified with a confirmation letter once your registration has been processed. Class size is limited.  

Refund Policy

If you cancel, tuition is fully refundable up until four weeks from the start date of your course. Within four weeks, we can only provide a full refund if your space in the program is filled. If not filled, if you cancel between two to four weeks before the start of class a 50% refund can be issued. If you cancel within less than two weeks before the start of class, no refund can be issued. Your refund, if any, will be processed on or after the first day of class. The Whale Museum reserves the right to cancel the program at any time. In the event the program is canceled, you will be issued a full refund.

What to Expect for Spring 2023

Lectures will take place virtually through webinar/videoconferencing software, such as Whova and Zoom. If participating in field trips, they will be in-person here on SJI. A full schedule with be provided to registered students. The main focus of the training is the ecology, current status and conservation of Southern Resident Killer Whales and other local marine species as well as discussions about the environments they live in. The course includes presentations on cetaceans, pinnipeds, otters, intertidal invertebrates, seabirds, and a variety of other topics such as geology and marine conservation. Faculty includes Whale Museum staff, professional naturalists, marine scientists, and environmental educators active in the region. 

Presentations will be recorded and made available to participants for up to 3 months afterwards. 

Feel free to contact Tracie at any time with questions.


Need help? Our customer service staff is happy to assist. Call (360) 378-4710 x30. Please leave a message if after business hours. Thanks!

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