NAS/Seasearch Observer Course

Friday 15th and Saturday 16th October (with optional diving on 17th October)


At this live online course, find out what an amazing habitat for wildlife wrecks are! Attend this course from the comfort of your home and find out what marine critters you’re likely to encounter on a wreck and how you can contribute to the recording and reporting of our threatened marine life. Then you’ll be ready to go diving and put your new knowledge into practice.

During the course you'll learn about Seasearch - its aims, history and achievements. You'll get a basic introduction to the variety of marine life in British and Irish waters and learn to recognise and classify marine habitats, particularly those that develop around wreck sites. You'll also learn position fixing and how to fill in the Observation Form.

On Friday evening and all Saturday, participants will observe online presentations, attend 'video dives', participate in interactive activities and have times for questions. It will be a very engaging and interesting online learning experience.

On Sunday, optional dives will be arranged for course participants to join at a separate cost. 

Diving will be organised for Swanage and can also be organised in other areas where there are a group of course participants. That’s an excellent reason to encourage your friends and dive buddies to also attend the online course!


This online course is an introduction to divers who are new to Seasearch and new to marine recording. At the end of the course you should be able to complete the Seasearch Observation Form and take part in Seasearch dives either on your own, with your club or on dive organised by Seasearch partners.

Participants will receive 10 credits from NAS from attending this course and Seasearch qualifications when they have also completed the required number of dives.


NAS Members £50, plus £25 for MSC Marine Life Guide. Does not include diving costs.

Non-members £80, plus £25 for MSC Marine Life Guide. Does not include diving costs.

After booking their place on the course, participants will be contacted about whether they need to purchase the MSC Marine Life Guide or not and for their interest in diving on Sunday.


Charlotte Bolton is the National Seasearch Coordinator in the Ocean Recovery team at the Marine Conservation Society.  After a career in research science and IT, she completed a Masters of Ocean Science. This eventually led to working with Seasearch where she was able to combine her love of diving with her ‘geeky’ passion for research.

Nick Reed has had a long career in education and community engagement but has never been busier since he retired five years ago. He is now a specialist tutor for NAS, assistant tutor for Seasearch and volunteers at Swanage Pier and the National Coastwatch Institution.

Timetable (provisional and subject to amendment)

Friday 15th October (times in BST)

18:00     Introductions and online etiquette

18:10     Introduction to Seaseach

18:30     Introduction to marine life 

19:45     Questions

20:00     Day finish

Saturday 16th October

10:00      Underwater Landscapes

11:00     Questions

11:15     Marine Life quiz

11:45     Review of identification books and websites

12:00     Observer forms – part 1

12:20     Fill in Observer forms – practical exercise

12:40     Observer forms – part 2

13:00     Lunch

14:00     Seasearch, underwater photography and diving techniques

14:10     Short Video dives

14:30     A1 video dive with brief

15:15     Getting involved with NAS and Seasearch

16:00     Course end

Sunday 17th October – optional diving


Option one: easiest and cheapest. Two shore dives under the pier using the marine life on the pier legs and underneath the pier to complete the Observer Form. 

Option two: more adventurous and costs more. Two boat dives from one of the local charter boats. Costs per dive range from £30 - £35. Suitable diving times will be early morning (0800 ropes off) or mid to late afternoon. Boat dives will have to be booked directly with Charter skippers.

You will have access to the Pier classroom to complete your forms and a range of ID books will be available.

If there are sufficient numbers in other areas of the UK then the optional dives can be coordinated for the Sunday.