Marine Mammal Observer

OSC provides Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs) for myriad marine industries including: pile drivingdecommissioning, seismic exploration, drilling, Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD), scientific research, etc. Our experienced and qualified Marine Mammal Observers help developers reduce potential impacts of operations on the marine environment by ensuring there are no breaches of environmental protocols or regulations. Marine Mammal Observers ensure that marine industrial operations are compliant with mitigation guidelines. Mitigation actions, including delayed start to operations, soft-start to airgun firing or piling, and airgun shutdown, are implemented when protected species (can be country specific, including marine mammals, sharks or turtles) are sighted within a specified mitigation zone (typically 500 or 1,000 m from acoustic source). OSC’s highly trained Marine Mammal Observers also perform scientific research. For example during distance-sampling surveys to derive abundance estimates

All our Marine Mammal Observers hold the full suite of offshore training qualifications, including: 


  • OPITO/OLF/NOGEPA Basic Offshore Safety and Emergency Training (BOSIET);
  • Helicopter Underwater Escape Training (HUET);
  • Compressed Air Emergency Breathing System (CA-EBS) initial deployment training; and,
  • Global Wind Organisation (GWO) Basic Safety Training.

When involved in large industry projects, MMOs are often required to have additional training, which can include:

  • STCW 95 basic training;
  • Minimum Industry Safety Training (MIST); and,
  • Escape Chute Training. 


  • OGUK (UKOOA); 
  • ENG1; and,
  • Norwegian Continental Shelf.

Marine Mammal Observer:

  • Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC);
  • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM); and,
  • New Zealand Department of Conservation (DOC). 

OSC also provides JNCC-approved MMO training, New Zealand Department Of Conservation (DOC) approved MMO and Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) courses, Protected Species Observer (PSO) training compliant with BOEM requirements, and Institute of Marine Engineering, Sciences & Technology (IMarEST)-accredited PAM. 


If you are already a certified MMO/PAM operator and would like to work with OSC, or have worked with us previously, please create an account here to provide us with your contact details and offshore documents. Please ensure you keep your documents and contact details up to date. If you have questions, please get in touch with


Marine Mammal Observer guidelines vary from country to country, but our MMOs are flexible, stay up to date, and have extensive knowledge of operational procedures and industry regulations. This enables them to interpret and implement all guidelines quickly and efficiently in real-time situations, which minimises disruption and operational downtime. OSC Marine Mammal Observers can work to all guidelines, but those used most commonly include:

  • United Kingdom Continental Shelf (UKCS) waters: Joint Nature Conservation Committee guidelines exist for geophysical data acquisition (JNCC, 2017), pile driving (JNCC, 2010a), and explosions (JNCC, 2010b). Guidelines apply to both cetaceans and pinnipeds;
  • Irish waters: The National Parks and Wildlife Service Guidance to Manage the Risk to Marine Mammals from Man-made Sound Sources in Irish Waters(NPWS, 2014), details requirements for dredging, drilling, pile driving, geophysical acoustic surveys, and blasting. Guidelines are similar to JNCC, and apply to cetaceans and pinnipeds;
  • Gulf of Mexico: Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) guidelines (BOEM & BSEE, 2012) specify mitigation requirements for seismic surveys. Guidelines apply to marine mammals and sea turtles, but stricter measures apply for whales; 
  • Australian waters: The Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and Arts 2008 EPBC Act Policy Statement 2.1 Interaction between offshore seismic exploration and whales applies to cetaceans, but the regulator NOPSEMA specifies that mitigation measures must also apply to whale sharks. Turtles also need to be considered during the planning phases; and,  
  • New Zealand waters: Department Of Conservation code of conduct (DOC, 2013) applies to cetaceans and pinnipeds during seismic surveys.


The science of infra-red (IR) night-time vision technology is still in its infancy. We have conducted some preliminary research on night-vision systems and trialled their use in the field during marine mammal observations, with poor results, so OSC is unable to warrant and recommend this methodology. Nevertheless, we are willing and capable of providing this service according to regulatory necessity (e.g. German and Australian waters).

Contact us for further information or to discuss your project-specific requirements.


JNCC (2010a): Statutory nature conservation agency protocol for minimising the risk of injury to marine mammals from piling noise. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Inverness. 14 pp.

JNCC (2010b): JNCC guidelines for minimising the risk of injury to marine mammals from using explosives. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Aberdeen, UK. 10 pp.

JNCC (2017): JNCC guidelines for minimising the risk of injury and disturbance to marine mammals from geophysical surveys Aberdeen. 28 pp.

NPWS (2014): Guidance to manage the risk to marine mammals from man-made sound sources in Irish waters. Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. National Parks & Wildlife Service. 59 pp.

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