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Sea Alarm invests a lot of time and energy in creating training opportunities for different target groups within the community of marine wildlife emergency responders. Target groups include emergency response managers, wildlife response managers, hands-on responders and scientists. Sea Alarm also organizes training events and contributes to exercises that enable groups of responders to gain knowledge and cooperate together.

Apart from developing its own training modules, lectures and exercises, Sea Alarm contributes to and/or facilitates training events or modules provided by others. Sea Alarm assists oil companies or governmental agencies in their efforts to develop consistent training programmes to train key staff positions in an oiled wildlife response or exercise programmes in which trained staff can develop expertise and experience in realistic environments.

The more training opportunities and exercises that are organised, the better prepared stakeholders can become. Funding is obviously is a key issue. Involving Sea Alarm in the planning of a training exercise not only guarantees its expert contributions, but it also assists in the identification of other trainers or contributions that could be requested from specialized bodies. Sea Alarm is also able to explore external funding opportunities on behalf of other organisations. If a particular training event aims to increase cross border cooperation in Europe, Sea Alarm may also be able to consider some of its own funding opportunities.


Hands-on responders

Hands-on responders have the responsibility of capturing affected animals along a shoreline, transporting them to specialized centres and treating them according to the pre-spill defined objectives. They include search and capture specialists, wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians. Ideally, some hands-on responders will also have managing skills enabling them to train and manage groups of volunteers who operate under their direction.

Although the primary focus of hands-on responders is to take care of the animals as quickly and effectively as possible, it is important that they are well trained to do this job safely, cooperatively, and with the highest probability that their objectives are met.

The international hands-on training that Sea Alarm provides and facilitates in close collaboration with its global network partners focuses on:

  • best practices for capture, transport, rehabilitation, euthanasia, washing and waterproofing and release of marine animals (seabirds, marine mammals and sea turtles);
  • health and safety;
  • ethical dilemmas;
  • setting up and managing rehabilitation facilities; and
  • working as part of a larger oil spill incident.

Training by Sea Alarm is always based on internationally agreed best practices, e.g. protocols and guidelines published by the leading response organisations.

Sea Alarm has been involved in developing a course for first response teams (including volunteers) via the EU funded POSOW project, and later via the EU funded EUROWA Module project, in which training courses have been developed for advanced responders, specialist responders, veterinarians and other management roles in a rehabilitation facility and the wider wildlife response. More information on EUROWA training courses can be found here.

Sea Alarm organises training events for interested parties on request and encourages and assists partner organisations in developing and organising their own courses. Courses are regularly held in Belgium (organised by the Ostend Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre) and in the UK (organised by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. These courses are announced by means of the Sea Alarm Newsletter and the EUROWA website.

Together with EUROWA partners, Sea Alarm also facilitates the training of experienced oiled wildlife responders that are able to respond abroad, as part of an international team that is coordinated by Sea Alarm. This core group of European responders includes individuals that have previously been involved in incidents and/or are key responders in their home countries. By allowing this group to train together, Sea Alarm helps to increase the national hands-on response capacity in European countries.

Wildlife response managers

Wildlife response managers are often marine conservation experts, biologists, or veterinarians that work for a ministry or governmental institute. Because marine wildlife emergencies do not occur frequently at a national level, training is often not a high priority. In many countries the function of a wildlife response coordinator has not been formalized and the person who assumes this position is often only identified when an incident actually occurs.

However, countries are increasingly recognizing the importance of identifying an officer before a spill occurs, giving him/her the opportunity to be prepared for this task. Sea Alarm has developed training modules to train these officers at an international level. Training includes aspects of oil spill response and details of an oiled wildlife response.

Training objectives include:

  • Causes and consequences of oil spilled at sea;
  • Response to an oil spill: options and perspectives;
  • Past response experience;
  • Importance of an integrated response to oiled wildlife;
  • Effects of oil on wildlife and reasons for species specific vulnerabilities;
  • Objectives and strategies of a wildlife response;
  • Components of a wildlife response;
  • Dealing with a developing wildlife response;
  • Health and safety issues in a wildlife response;
  • Dealing with volunteers and volunteer organisations;
  • Setting up and managing an oiled wildlife response centre; and
  • Elements of an integrated oiled wildlife response plan.

Sea Alarm can facilitate international training events on request.

Oil spill response managers

Oil spill response managers are experts in governmental bodies, oil companies and maritime companies that are trained to coordinate the activities of a response to marine pollution emergencies. Although they are generally familiar with many areas of oil spill response, the different aspects and needs of a wildlife response are often not so well known.

Sea Alarm has developed training modules especially for oil spill response experts, consisting of lectures and table top exercises. Depending upon the requirements, modules of a few hours up to several days can be provided, and can include the contribution of external experts.

Sea Alarm has provided training modules to different oil companies (e.g. Chevron, StatoilHydro), as part of larger training events facilitated by Oil Spill Response.

Training objectives include:

  • Importance of an integrated response to oiled wildlife;
  • Effects of oil on wildlife and reasons for species specific vulnerabilities;
  • Objectives and strategies of a wildlife response;
  • Components of a wildlife response;
  • Dealing with a developing wildlife response;
  • Health and safety issues in a wildlife response; and
  • Elements of an integrated oiled wildlife response plan.


A marine oil spill may affect vulnerable species at the population level. The impact can only be assessed if corpses of animals are systematically collected from beaches and taken to laboratories where they can be analyzed. Scientists must play a key role in designing and supervising these activities.

Impact assessment is a specialized area of an oil spill response and is also a new field of expertise for scientists.

Together with leading scientists, Sea Alarm is aiming to organise dedicated training events in which scientists can obtain the necessary background information and develop the skills required to perform an impact assessment.

Wildlife Response Exercises

In a marine wildlife response, a large number of individuals and organisations need to cooperate and work together according to proven techniques and strategies to be effective and successful. The best way to test and train this cooperation is to have an exercise that concentrates on a specific part of a response.

Depending upon the objectives, the size of an exercise may range from a small-scale to a large-scale event. Small-scale exercises may include notification tests to test the correctness of the response plan’s telephone directory or table-top exercises to practice the decision making process in a wildlife response centre. Larger-scale exercises may include an equipment mobilizing exercise or the mobilization of a whole response system including people, facilities and equipment.

Sea Alarm can provide advice and can facilitate the design, planning and management of exercises. For a number of objectives, off-the-shelf table-top exercises are already available.

Sea Alarm’s own emergency response system is also regularly tested as part of oil industry exercises in which Oil Spill Response is involved. In these cases an oiled wildlife scenario runs as part of a larger oil spill response set-up, and Sea Alarm is contacted as part of the response plan to advise and/or assist in the mobilization of response teams or equipment.

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