Meet Our People

Annique Oosthuizen – Environmental Consultant

Annique is a valued member of our environmental team and is currently working with us on a seismic exploration project in South America. Annique has kindly taken some time out of her busy schedule to give us an insight into her role and life offshore as MMO and PAM Operator. Thank you Annique!

Q. So, what exactly do you do?

I’m a Marine Mammal Observer (MMO) and Passive Acoustic Monitoring Operator or PAM Operator for short. I’m currently involved in seismic operations offshore. My role is to enforce mitigation regulations to minimise acoustic disturbance to marine mammals. I do this by conducting visual and acoustic watches for marine mammals and other sensitive species and then implementing specific mitigation measures such as delaying and/or momentarily shutting down seismic operations.

Q. What does a typical day look like?

A typical day offshore for me starts out with a walk up to the bridge (usually a good few flights of stairs) from the accommodation area to relieve my colleague from his/her duty and to catch up on any project/operational updates for the day. The majority of our long shifts (often 12 hours, 24/7) are spent carefully scanning the ocean and its horizon with our binoculars for marine mammals and other species of concern (If you’re lucky enough, from inside the comfortable and air-conditioned bridge area with 360 degree wrap-around windows for your convenience 😁). We also collect weather and operational data during this time, as well as data and photographs of marine life.

During my breaks I grab a bite to eat, catch up on some exercise, chat with friends and family and chill out in the day rooms. At night or during times of restricted visibility, I head down to the Instrument Room where our PAM system is usually installed. I get my PAM equipment started, don my headphones and listen for any dolphin whistles and echolocation clicks or whale moans and groans that our specialised software detects from our hydrophones towed behind the vessel. I usually have time during my PAM operating to write up daily/weekly reports or catch up on any data logging for the day.

I end my day with another handover with my colleague and head over to my cabin for a good rest.


Q. What do you love about your job?

There are many aspects that I love about the work that I do, including being able to observe and photograph beautiful sea creatures, travel and meet great people from all over the globe, but most importantly, I love the fact that I am actively involved in minimising the potential impacts that offshore seismic operations might have on our wonderful marine animals.


Q. What are the most important attributes for the role?

The most important attributes for the role as an MFO in my experience would be being able to focus for long periods of time, to have good interpersonal and communication skills (we associate with and work alongside people from different backgrounds and cultures), staying calm under pressure, and having confidence to enforce local environmental regulations and effectively communicate mitigation guidelines to the crew. And lastly, staying friendly and professional.


Q. What do you like and dislike about working offshore?

There are some great pros to working offshore, including being able to travel to amazing places all around the world and meet new people from different countries and walks of life. One of my few dislikes about working offshore would have to be the extended periods away from family and friends, often times during the holiday season and special events such as birthdays, weddings and the like. It can also get considerably bumpy on a ship far out at sea during bad weather, so sea sickness is a common occurrence (Luckily I’ve developed my “sea legs” over the years😁.)


Q. Do you have any sports and hobbies outside of work?

When I’m home in South Africa, I enjoy visiting my family on the coast and fishing with my brother. On weekends you’ll find me hiking and mountain biking with friends. I also simply enjoy spending time at home with my cats after long stints away at work. πŸ™‚


Q. Do you have any advice for anyone wanting to get into this line of work?

For sure, the best advice I can give someone looking to work offshore as an MMO would be to first test the waters. Try and gain some other offshore experience beforehand, as this will give you an idea on whether this type of lifestyle would suit you. This line of work is both challenging and rewarding!


We would love to hear from any environmental professionals who would be interested in registering with EMS Assist for future opportunities – please get in touch at the following email address:

Thank you!

The EMS Team

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *