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Module OSX-3010:
Marine Mammal Observation

Module Facts

Run by School of Ocean Sciences

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr James Waggitt

Overall aims and purpose

This module focuses on the surveying and monitoring of marine mammals. Lectures will introduce students to species classification, species identification, conservation issues and field methods. Fieldwork will provide students with experience of boat-based and shore-based surveys - performing observations using a systematic technique, recording these observations using standardised forms, and processing these observations for subsequent analyses. Surveys will be performed in north Anglesey - a region known for frequent sightings of bottlenose dolphin, grey seal, harbour porpoise and Rissos dolphin. Specific skills introduced during fieldwork include identifying species, estimating group size, distinguishing between calves/juveniles/adults, determining behaviour, and assessing sea conditions. Computer practicals will teach students analysis in Access and GIS.

Course content

The module consists of a series of lectures, 1 shore-based survey, 1 boat-based survey and 2 computer practicals. Data collected during boat-based and shore-based surveys are then used to produce a report investigating relationships between the abundance of cetaceans and environmental conditions. If sufficient data is not collected during surveys, data collected during previous surveys will be used instead.

Assessment Criteria


Limited knowledge and basic understanding reliant entirely on the taught programme.


Wider knowledge and moderate understanding based on the taught programme, but with evidence of enquiry beyond that. Able in data collection, data analysis and presentation. Understanding the limitations of methods used to collect data.


Extensive knowledge and comprehensive understanding based on the taught programme, and with extensive evidence of enquiry beyond that. Competent in data collection, data analysis and presentation. Understanding the limitations of the methods used to collect data, and suggestions as to how data collection might be improved.

Learning outcomes

  1. Identify a range of marine mammal species.

  2. Be familiar with surveys commonly used for marine mammals.

  3. Record the abundance, ages and behaviour of marine mammals.

  4. Assess sea conditions during surveys of marine mammals.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
COMPREHENSION TEST Species Identification 20
REPORT Survey Report 80

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Practical classes and workshops

Introduction to analysis in Access and GIS.

Private study 68

Introduction to species classification, species identification, conservation issues and field methods.


1 day of boat-based surveys and 1 day of shore-based surveys.

Practical classes and workshops

Help session for the 'Survey Report'.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team

Courses including this module