Please click on the question headers to reveal the answers

What are BDMLR’s opening hours?

Our rescue hotline is open 24/7, even on weekends and Bank Holidays. If you find a seal, whale or dolphin in distress, please call the rescue line ASAP on 01825 765546 (option 1). For any admin/course queries, Head Office is open 9-5pm, Monday-Friday (excluding Bank Holidays).

Can I become a volunteer?

Yes, we offer Marine Mammal Medic courses that train individuals in whale, seal and dolphin rescue techniques. Once you have completed our course, you will become a volunteer Marine Mammal Medic with us! The main aim of becoming a BDMLR Medic is for us to provide you with the basic knowledge, skills and expertise to enable our volunteer teams to respond to a callout and act on behalf of that animal’s best welfare interests.

Our courses consist of online lectures and a practical day. The lectures will be emailed out a week before the practical session and must be watched before the practical session to build some prior knowledge. 

The majority of our courses are wet courses (the practical element is at the water’s edge) and these require a wetsuit/drysuit and suitable footwear to be worn. We do also run some dry courses which cover the same practical elements as the wet courses but are not near the water. 

I can’t be a Medic, are there other ways to support BDMLR?

Yes! We are very grateful for any way you can support our work, so we also offer the opportunity to be a BDMLR Supporter to directly help the charity save marine animals. All funds received help us continue our vital work with seals, dolphins, whales and other marine life across the UK. Becoming a BDMLR supporter is easy and fuss free. Please download and fill out this form – this can be emailed back to us at info@bdmlr.org.uk or you can send it in the post, or you can set up a standing order via online banking (please notify us that you have set it up yourself if you choose this option). Payments for supporter’s fees can also be made over the phone by calling us on 01825 765546.

Do you offer work experience or placements?

Unfortunately we are not in a position to offer any work experience or work placements due to our limited facilities. If you are looking for experience within the marine conservation sector, we recommend completing our Marine Mammal Medic course where you will receive one year’s membership (with the option to renew afterward the year is up) where you will gain hands-on experience with marine mammals. Please note, some areas of the country receive more callouts than others, so the amount of experience you gain will vary depending on where you are located.

I am a vet or vet nurse; how can I get involved?

The support of vets and veterinary nurses is greatly appreciated by BDMLR. If you’d like to volunteer with us, you will first need to complete a ‘BDMLR Marine Mammal Medic’ course, this will teach you the basics of marine mammal assessment and first aid, as well as other vital information about how the charity operates and health and safety aspects of the work. 

After successfully completing a Medic course, you will be added to the list for call-outs happening in your local area. Veterinary assistance at call-outs (particularly when a vet is required on-scene at events such as adult seals or cetacean strandings) is essential, and having a BDMLR-trained vet with knowledge of marine mammals available to help is always a great asset. 

A range of learning resources specifically aimed at veterinary professionals are also in development, and will be made available to BDMLR-trained vets and nurses in the near future.

I am a vet student, can I do an EMS placement with BDMLR?

Due to the unpredictable and widely dispersed nature of our work, opportunities for EMS with BDMLR are extremely limited at the moment. Our new ‘Veterinary Student Externships’ (more information here: https://bdmlr.org.uk/veterinary-student-externship) will be held at the BDMLR Cornwall Seal Hospital in December and January each year, but places are very limited.  

Please note: the places for the December 2022 and January 2023 externships have now been filled. Applications for the December 2023 and January 2024 externships will open in February 2023.

BDMLR Marine Mammal Medic Course (MMMC)

What qualifications are needed to be a BDMLR Medic?

No qualifications or experience is required to become a Marine Mammal Medic with us, just a love and passion for marine life!

Do you run courses specifically for vets?

We do not run courses specifically for vets however once you have completed our Marine Mammal Medic course, our vet consultant has further resources and support available for vets and RVN’s.

Do you hire wet/drysuits?

No, as courses are run all over the UK and our head office is in Sussex, it is not feasible to rent these out unfortunately. We advise that you either borrow or hire a wet/drysuit from a friend or local diving shop or purchase a second hand one. 

How often do you run courses?

We aim to run at least one course a year in each area although this is depends on demand. If there is currently no course in your area or a course date that suits you, please check back on our website later.

How do I know how many spaces are left on a course?

If a course is showing as available to book on the website, there is still space left and it should display as a blue pinpoint on our course map here. If the pinpoint displayed is purple, this means spaces are limited, but still possible to book via Head Office, so you will need to call us on 01825 765546 to see if you are able to book on. If the pinpoint displayed is red, the course is full and no further places are available – it will also state this on the right-hand side of the course event page itself.

Is it possible to buy a MMM course as a present?

Absolutely – course vouchers can be purchased as a gift at the standard course price of £115 and can be either emailed or posted to you/the recipient. To purchase a voucher, please call us on 01825 765546 (option 2 – and during office hours 9am – 5pm Mon-Fri) to give details and make your payment. 

Do you offer any course discounts?

As a small charity that receives no central government funding, we are reliant on our course income to be able to continue as a rescue organisation, so we regret that we cannot offer any course discounts at this stage.

When will I receive online materials for my MMM course?

We send the online materials via email about seven to ten days before the course date. This will usually be the penultimate Friday before the course. If you haven’t received your materials within five days of the course, please first check your junk/spam folder, then if you are certain you haven’t received them, please contact us either by email info@bdmlr.org.uk or phone 01825 765546 (option 2 – and during office hours 9am – 5pm Mon-Fri).

What happens after my Marine Mammal Medic course?

Once you have completed our Marine Mammal Medic course, you will be added to our call out list based on your postcode. If a marine mammal is in distress or requires a check in your area, then you will receive a text and you only respond if you are available.

This structure is fantastic as it suits most people whether you work full time and only have time to volunteer at weekends or whether you work shifts or have lots of free time!

Current Marine Mammal Medics

How much is Medic annual subscription and insurance?

The first year’s subscription and insurance for medics is included in the course fee. After the first year, the fee is £30 (or £25 on standing order) per year to keep your subscription and insurance up to date with us. 

How do I renew my Medic subscription?

You should receive a renewal reminder about a month or so before your subscription is due to expire (a year after your course date) via the email address you gave us when you registered with all the details of how to renew. If you haven’t received this, please email us at info@bdmlr.org.uk and we will look into this for you as we may have your details stored incorrectly.

The easiest way to renew is via standing order so that your payment is deducted from your account automatically every year and you don’t need to worry about arranging future payments. This also entitles you to a £5 discount – please email Head Office for our bank details to set this up. If you’d prefer to make a one-off payment and pay the full £30 subscription fee, you can make this payment over the phone (option 2), or if you’d prefer to do a bank transfer, please email us for our bank details.

Is there any further training?

Yes! We are currently working on setting up an online ‘members area’ for training materials and this will hopefully be available to existing medics soon. However, if it’s been a while since your last rescue or you completed your course and you feel you need to refresh your skills, you’re welcome to attend any MMM course as a refresher for free, providing you’re still an up-to-date Medic. To book on as a refresher, please contact Head Office via phone or email about 10 days before the course date to make sure there is space on the course for you to attend.

Once you have been a Medic for over a year, you’re also eligible to apply as an Advanced Marine Mammal Medic. To achieve this, you will be given a AMMM logbook detailing practical elements that will need signing off by a BDMLR instructor. Once the logbook has been completed, you will then sit and pass a short exam in order to receive your Advanced Medic status.

How often do I need to attend a refresher course?

We recommend that you renew your skills every two to three years to stay up to date with rescue techniques and welfare practices – perhaps sooner if you haven’t been on many rescues. You will need to be a current Medic to attend these sessions for free. Our aim is to provide you as a Medic with the basic knowledge, skills and expertise to enable our volunteer teams to respond to a callout and act on behalf of that animal’s best welfare interests.

Where can I find my Medic ID number?

Your Medic ID number will have been emailed to you in the week following completion of your MMM course for you to write on the unsealed Medic ID card that came in your welcome pack. If you have misplaced your card or cannot locate the original email, please either contact your Area Coordinator who should have record of your ID number, or contact Head Office either by email or phone (option 2).

Can I buy a seal bag/other equipment?

Seal bags can be purchased from Head Office for £45 plus postage (£3), so £48 total. These are currently very low in stock and are being reserved for the areas that need them, so please contact us to enquire (we will be ordering more bags in soon, but please note the price of these will increase due to our supplier increasing their costs). Other rescue equipment, such as varikennel/crate, scales, gloves, masks, thermometer, etc. will need to be sourced yourself, although we do occasionally have varikennels donated to us. Your area coordinator will be able to notify you of any donations and also may be able to advise you on where to buy equipment for your kit locally. 

How do I update my address/contact details?

If any of your contact details have changed, please contact us at Head Office either by phone or email to update your details on our database. We will notify you if your new address puts you in a different callout group.


How do I know which size to order?

Size charts are available for most items on the website, if in doubt as to what size you should order, please call head office and we will be happy to advise.

How long does it take to ship my order?

We ship orders from the office every Tuesday and Thursday via Royal Mail 2nd class. So if you order items on a Friday, your order won’t be shipped until the following Tuesday. You will receive a confirmation email when your order has been processed and posted. On Royal Mail’s website, it states 2nd class items should be delivered in two to three working days (including Saturdays), however we’d recommend allowing about a week for your order to arrive as there are often delays. And during periods (such as Christmas) when postage times become unpredictable, please make sure you allow much more time for delivery.

Do you accept returns?

We do accept returns as long as they are in the same condition in which we sent them to you. You will be responsible for any shipping costs for returns. If the item was damaged or faulty in the first instance, then we will be able to reimburse your shipping fee.  

Do you ship internationally?

Yes, but please note, we may request further shipping costs depending on where it is being sent to. We advise contacting Head Office before placing your order to enquire how much extra this may cost.

Where is my order?

We recommend allowing at least a week for your items to arrive after ordering. Orders are shipped every Tuesday and Thursday via Royal Mail 2nd class, e.g., if you order items from our shop on a Friday, your order won’t be shipped until the following Tuesday. You will receive a confirmation email when your order has been processed and posted. On Royal Mail’s website, it states that 2nd class items should be delivered in 2-3 working days (including Saturdays), however we’d recommend allowing about a week for your order to arrive as there are often delays. If you think we may have missed your order, please contact us at Head office via email or phone. Please note, any Bank holidays or national holidays may cause further delays in the post.

Are blue BDMLR jackets available?

Unfortunately, those blue jackets are no longer available, however we are currently looking into restocking another type of weather-proof jacket from another supplier. Stay tuned!

Cornwall Seal Hospital

How can I become a volunteer at the BDMLR Cornwall Seal Hospital?

We have a large team of volunteer Medics who help with the day to day running of our seal hospital in Cornwall. In order to join the hospital volunteer team, you must be a qualified BDMLR Marine Mammal Medic (with an up to date and fully paid up subscription) and live within a one hour drive of the hospital site in mid-Cornwall. You must also be able to commit to a minimum of one shift per month during the seal season while the hospital is open (autumn/winter). We currently have no volunteer vacancies at the seal hospital, but when these become available in the future they will be advertised on the BDMLR South West Region Facebook group for Medics. Please appreciate demand to join the team is very high, so we may not be able to take on everybody who applies in each recruitment phase.

I am a BDMLR Marine Mammal Medic, can I come and complete a short placement at the BDMLR Cornwall Seal Hospital?

Each grey seal season (autumn/winter) we have the capacity to take on a small number of Medics from around the country for short term placements to assist with their training. Priority will be given to Area Coordinators and Assistants, vets and RVNs, and Medics who are actively involved in callouts in their region. Our aim is to help these volunteers gain and increase confidence in skills and knowledge that will then be actively used and passed on in their own areas, thus improving the regional team response. As common seals are scarce in SW England we do not have pups in during spring and summer, and therefore cannot offer placements during these months. We regret that we cannot reimburse expenses for training at the Seal Hospital.

I am a veterinary student, can I come and complete EMS at the BDMLR Cornwall Seal Hospital?

At present we are offering a small number of 4th or 5th year vet students the opportunity to complete one of our two-week ‘Veterinary Student Externships’ in December and January each year (peak seal pup rescue season in Cornwall). More information can be found here: https://bdmlr.org.uk/veterinary-student-externship. There are no other EMS opportunities available with BDMLR at this time.

I am a vet or a veterinary nurse, how can I get involved at the BDMLR Cornwall Seal Hospital?

Vets and veterinary nurses who are also qualified and up to date BDMLR Marine Mammal Medics can apply for a volunteer position at the hospital as described in the first question in this section. Unfortunately due to very high demand and limited capacity we are unable to take on vets/veterinary nurses who are not Medics for short term placements.

Can members of the public visit the hospital?

The hospital is not open to the public, but we share regular updates on everything happening at the hospital (including plenty of ‘pupdates’!) on our dedicated Facebook page which you can find by clicking this link.