Earthwatch - Volunteer Programs in Scotland

You will be exposed to the truly spectacular scenery of the west coast of Scotland, from the sheer cliffs of Scarba to the sandy beaches of Tiree, as you sail the waters of the Hebrides surveying for cetaceans and other sea life. Working from on board the Silurian, a 21-meter ketch, with researchers Juliet Shrimpton and Clare Embling, you will record cetacean abundance along transects and record acoustic behaviors of encountered cetaceans using the latest technology. You'll photograph dolphins and whales for individual identification, and collect environmental information.

Program Info

  • Scotland
Volunteer Types: 
Marine Conservation
Program Length: 
1-2 weeks
2-4 weeks
$2,000 - $5,000 (USD)
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Age Group: 
Cost Description: 

Projects range from USD 500 to USD 4,400 per person excluding travel to and from the rendezvous. The price of each project, which we call your contribution, covers your food, accommodation, on-site travel (not airfare), emergency medical and medical evacuation insurance, and all of the various costs of field research (field permits, equipment, etc.). These costs may vary for each expedition and individual team so please check prior to making your reservation or call the Expedition Coordinator if

Volunteer House
Participants travel to the program independently.
Some travel is required during the program.
Online Application
Age Requirement

Program Reviews (1)

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  • Laurel
    Age: 31-50
    University of British Columbia
    Hard Work But Incredible Opportunity

    We worked long hours, often 8+ a day and the work was not always exciting when there was no wildlife around, BUT we also visited uninhabited islands, found 50ish basking sharks, spotted minke whales and several different species of dolphins. It was hard work but the experience of a life time!

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Alumni Interviews

  • Why did you decide to volunteer with Earthwatch in Scotland?

    Volunteering in Scotland with Earthwatch
    Hebrides mother dolphin and calf

    Laurel: I was looking for a volunteer opportunity that involved animals and going to a place that I would be interested in visiting after the volunteer vacation was this fit the bill perfectly.

    Describe your day to day activities as a volunteer.

    Laurel: We were paired up with a different partner each (another volunteer) and were rotated through duties that included: sightings watch (standing on the front of the boat watching for whales and dolphins), bird watch - recording whale and dolphin sightings, recording the different types and numbers of birds, and listening to the underwater microphone and watching the computer screen for whale sounds. Each person would get a 30 minute break through each cycle, then it would start all over again.

    Our day would start between 8 and 9 in the morning, we would stop for lunch, then work through until dinner, which we took turns making. Often we would go island hopping in the evenings, which meant exploring uninhabited islands that would have been very difficult to reach for the average person.

    How has this experience impacted your future?

    Laurel: I volunteered for personal reasons and since volunteering I've tried to incorporate more volunteer travel in my vacations as well as more wildlife encounters.

    Earthwatch volunteer program in Scotland
    Beautiful view of Scotland's coastline

About the provider

Earthwatch is a worldwide non-profit organization unlocking the potential in people and the environment. Since 1971, Earthwatch has connected volunteers and partners with scientists undertaking vital field research around the globe. Everybody who works with Earthwatch, from students and teachers, to companies, retirees, and other individuals make a genuine, hands-on contribution to tackling climate change, understanding biodiversity, and protecting threatened habitats. For more information, please visit us.