Our Code of Conduct
We have the basking sharks’ welfare and protection as our highest priority along with customer safety. We have our own code of conduct for working with these animals which is similar to what has been advised by both the Marine Conservation Society and Shark Trust. We also follow guidance from the Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code and our vessel and skipper are approved wildlife safe operators under the WISE scheme. Our code of practice has been instigated to reduce any potential effects or disturbance of the basking sharks or their population. We also wish to have no cumulative impact on the sharks and monitor our area and time spent with individuals to ensure the sharks have the highest protection. Our code goes over and above recommended practices and we ensure that this is adhered to on all of our trips. We have a full briefing which is delivered by our guides prior to any encounters.
When taking customers in the water with the sharks the following procedures will apply;
- Sharks' positions and movement is carefully assessed by skipper and minimum distances applied.
- Sharks' behaviour and surroundings will be assessed prior to entering the water
- All encounters are by swimming/snorkel only – no SCUBA
- All encounters will be supervised by a guide
- Maximum 4 customers plus a guide in with an individual shark
- Swimmers will be dropped upstream or offshore of the shark/s to allow the shark/s to come to us, or we swim into the general area and wait.
- Minimal splashing and thrashing, silent entries only
- Absolutely no touching of the sharks
- No flash photography
- Minimise time with individual sharks
There are a number of other procedures, behaviours and activities that we perform in addition to the above list to ensure we have zero impact. We want to ensure those who don’t have the correct procedures, equipment, knowledge and background to conduct interactions without impact, are not encouraged to do so. During the peak period of shark activity we also monitor the area to ensure that the sharks are not disturbed by other visitors.
Seal Conservation & Environmental Considerations
During our tours we do visit areas where seals haul out and although the seals we visit are used to our presence, we always ensure that our activities do not disturb the seals in their own habitat. Seals are fully protected by legislation in Scotland and we ensure that our activities do not disturb them.
We ensure that seals dictate the encounter with us and that there is always plenty of space to make sure there is no crowding. We are particularly sensitive and keep our distance during the pupping season. We also ensure that we don't approach haul outs. We never seek to touch the seals, but that's not always reciprocal with some liking to nibble your fins! Like our other operations, we ensure that we are leaders in environmental best practice and that we cause no disturbance to marine wildlife. Our aim is to enjoy our marine wildlife and environment, whilst educating people to preserve it for future generations.