Protected Species Observer Training

Love the ocean? Looking for an exciting new career that will allow you to travel and observe marine wildlife? Are you hard working, flexible and a team player? Then look no further and join the growing industry of Protected Species Observers (PSO)! AIS is a nationwide leader in providing protected species monitoring services to government agencies and private companies operating in the marine environment.

Our Protected Species Observer training curriculum was created by NMFS approved PSOs and AIS scientists, in consultation with BOEM, BSEE, and NMFS staff. Individuals that successfully complete the training and meet the minimum qualifications described below, may be eligible to serve on offshore enterprise projects as a professional PSO, compliant with BSEE and NMFS standards.

Based in the US Northeast, AIS is near one of the richest offshore wildlife refuges in the world. During our three day training in historic downtown New Bedford, you’ll experience two days of ‘in class content’ and one day of in-situ training aboard the FV Gunsmoke, putting your new skills to the test out on Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. In between sessions, you’ll be free to explore the town where Ishmael’s story began and visit the New Bedford Whaling Museum.

Trainees will receive marine species and behavior identification training through activities designed to simulate real in-field detection events. Throughout the course trainees will participate in active discussions and exercises to ensure a comprehensive understanding of topics. Our training will introduce you to:

  • Sound in the Sea

  • Federal Legislation and Regulations

  • Protected Species Identification including: whales, dolphins, turtles, seals, manatees and fish that are covered under the Endangered Species Act and Marine Mammal Protection Act in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico

  • Roles and Responsibilities of a PSO

  • Monitoring and Communication Techniques

  • Data Management and Reporting

  • Hands on practice with ‘Tools of the Trade’

  • Life at Sea

  • Meet a PSO!

When is the Training

Due to the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the PSO training has been delayed until further notice. Please continue to submit your interest in the course and we will reach out once we are able to confirm a future date for the training. Stay healthy, and we look forward to seeing you soon!

How Much Does the Course Cost

The three day training is $675 per person. This includes classroom and in-situ training by our highly experienced training staff, training manual, daily lunches, access to PSO equipment during the class, and vessel charter fees for the offshore training component.

What am I Responsible for

Travel to and from the training and accommodations. AIS will send you information on our group rate with a local hotel once you have registered for the training course.

What are the Qualifications

To qualify for the PSO training you’ll need to provide a resume demonstrating an undergraduate degree in science or equivalent field experience.
Ultimately in order to be considered for a job as a PSO, you will also need to complete the following:

  • BOSIET or equivalent offshore safety certification
  • Medical Screening
  • If working as a PSO in the Northwest Atlantic region, an approval letter from the NMFS to work in the Northwest Atlantic

You don’t need these prior to the training but they will be a requirement to start work.

I’m Ready to be a PSO!

Learn More

Welcome to the first step in becoming a BOEM/NMFS compliant Protected Species Observer! To begin the course application process, fill in the required fields below and click the ‘I’m Interested!’ button. We’ll follow up with an email confirming your interest and to discuss your qualifications, enrollment and payment options. Additionally, please email your resume to and feel free to contact Kathryn Roy with any questions at 774-392-7127.

How did you hear about us?

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