Wilderness Experience FAQ Great Britain

Whale and Dolphin Survey in the Atlantic Ocean

Prior to arrival

Do I need specific requirements or abilities to apply for this course?

To take part in this educational course you need to be at least 18 years old and have profound English skills, so you can follow the training seminar and the instructions of the team leaders. It is also important to be physically fit, which means that you should be motivated to spend several hours per day on deck of a ferry to look for dolphins, whales and other marine mammals. Therefore, we need a certification from your doctor stating your current health status. Last but not least you need to get a travel health insurance before your departure to England.

What services are included?

When you book a placement in the course we will secure you your participation. We will assist you with finding suitable travel insurance and flights. The program fee also includes a one-day training seminar, accommodation on board of the ferry, daily breakfast and dinner on board plus the support of experienced, English-speaking course leaders. If you have questions or problems should occur, you can contact us or the local team at any time. Flights, travel insurance, visa fees (if needed), airport transfers, one dinner in England and personal expenses are not induced in the program fee.

Do I need certain medical precautions or requirements?

Before starting your educational adventure, you should see your doctor and talk to him about possible dangers, vaccinations and protection measures. We would recommend tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, measles, mumps and rubella before every journey. Moreover, you should take the medication you need with you, as the health care may not be sufficient. You should also consider vaccination for hepatitis A and if you want to stay longer even hepatitis B, typhus and rabies. Also make sure to take enough sunscreen and a hat with you to protect yourself from the intense sunlight on board. In general, we ask our participants to take a small first aid kit with them – this should include patches, anti-diarrheal agents, electrolytes, painkillers, broad spectrum antibiotics, disinfectants, antihistamines and possibly vitamin pills. Moreover, you should consult the website of the Federal Foreign Office (Auswärtiges Amt) to get information about possible travel and safety advice.

How long can I stay in the course?

The course duration is three days.

What kind of equipment should I take with me?

We advise you to take functional, long and short sleeved shirts and pants with you as well as shorts and long trousers, a wind and rainproof jacket, sandals and a pair of waterproof shoes which do not slip easily. Do not forget to bring your own medication, toiletries, towels, enough sunscreen, a sun hat, sunglasses and a refillable water bottle. Furthermore, you should pack your smartphone, a daypack, earplugs and personal items for your free time (e.g. books).


How do I arrive at my destination, do I have to organize it myself?

You should take a flight to Gatwick Airport a day before the course starts and travel from there to the town of Portsmouth in southern England, which takes about 2 hours. You will spend the following night in an accommodation in Portsmouth, before your training seminar starts on the next day. We will help you with booking your flights, planning your trip and finding accommodation in Portsmouth, but the final bookings need to be made by yourself.

What happens after my arrival?

After your arrival at Portsmouth you will participate in a one-day training seminar on the first day of your course. There you will receive all important information for your research activities on board the ferry. The seminar will start at 10 AM and end between 4 and 5 PM. Afterwards you and the other participants will get on board of the ferry, which will be your home for the next two days.

During the trip

How is the trip structured? What will I learn during the training seminar? What will I do on the ship?

During the training seminar you will learn about the following topics:

  • Introduction to the protection programme and its goals
  • Sighting and identification strategies of marine mammals
  • Different data collection methods (transects, distance sampling)
  • Correct handling of research equipment

While you are on board of the ferry you will meet at 6:00 AM on deck and will be doing intense monitoring until the late afternoon/early evening. You will look for whales, dolphins and other marine mammals, note the different species, the location of the sighting and the animals’ behaviour. On the second day you will arrive in Santander at 6:15 PM, and on the third and last day of the course you will start your journey back to the harbour of Plymouth where you will arrive at 4:15 PM. This is where the course ends.

How big is the group?

The group size will be between 10 and 16 participants.

Life on site

What is the accommodation like?

The participants are accommodated on board of a large ferry. Everyone has their own two berth inside cabin, which will be used as a single cabin for the participants. All cabins are equipped with their own bathroom.

Is it possible to be accommodated with a partner?

Usually it is possible to be accommodated with a partner, but it depends on the number of participants.

How is the food provided?

You will receive breakfast and dinner during your time on the ship. Lunch, snacks and drinks are your own responsibility – there are shops on board of the ferry where you can buy food and drinks.

Is it possible to get a vegetarian meal?

If you inform us ahead it is possible to eat vegetarian or to cater for other diets during the time of your course.

How can I spend my free time?

Both evenings during the course are free. While you have time to read a book, spend time with the other participants or just relax on board you can use the evening on the second day of the course to explore the Spanish town of Santander for one and a half hours.

Do I have a contact person on site?

On site there is always someone there for you, who will help you with questions and problems. You can also contact the NATUCATE team whenever needed.

What kind of cost do I have to expect during the project? Can I withdraw cash on site and do I have to pay in local currency?

The currency in Great Britain is British Pound, in Spain it is Euro. We recommend you taking a small amount in each currency with you. You should calculate extra expenses for airport transfer, lunch, snacks and drinks. Paying is cash is always possible, but you can also use your credit card on board of the ferry.

How can I contact family and friends at home?

You should take your smartphone with you to contact friends and family back home via text message or to use the internet. There is a mobile phone connection as well as wifi on board, which is quite limited, though. There should be no problems in Santander, Portsmouth and Plymouth.

What’s the climate/weather like?

On the open seas you should be prepared for every weather condition. You should wear layers of different clothes and bring warm and rainproof clothing with you.

Are there certain rules I need to follow during the course?

The consumption of alcohol on board of the ferry is allowed, but only in moderate amounts and outside working hours. If someone does not follow these rules that person will be immediately dismissed from the course. We expect proper behaviour from the participants of the course which also includes treating the other course members and leaders with respect.

What happens in case of an emergency?

The entire operation is delivered on board as normal passengers, so passengers will be under the same emergency procedures as other ferry passengers and should follow the directions of staff on board. The ship has a helipad for emergency medical evacuation and a variety of lifeboats and other safety equipment.

Do you have further questions that you did not find here?

Then call us at +49 241-91994357 or send an e-mail to info@natucate.com

Got questions? — We'll call you back