Basking Shark Scotland is an innovative wildlife tour business based in Oban on the west coast of Scotland.
How it All Began
We started in 2012 when founder Shane Wasik returned from living in New Zealand. At the time, he found himself struggling for exciting employment opportunities as a marine biologist, diver and underwater photographer. Racking his brains, he remembered the transformational experience of swimming with basking sharks when he was younger. Since Scotland is the world's No. 1 basking shark hotspot he was sure that people would be interested in the same experience he had. Using the experience gained on shark diving adventures around the South Pacific and following his immersion in the kiwi can-do culture he came up with a plan to run basking shark tours. With all the exciting pictures and videos produced from our first outings, people started traveling from all over the world for a chance to swim with the big fish and the rest is history.
Our main focus is wildlife tours, running seasonally to encounter iconic species alongside dedicated staff qualified in marine science and professional diving. We are passionate about the marine environment and have created a code of conduct to ensure our operations have no impact on the areas or species we visit. We have an active science programme which every tour contributes to, as we are in a unique position that we observe and swim with more basking sharks than anyone else in the whole world.
Basking Shark Scotland are members of Wild Scotland. This a nature tourism body for Scotland and we use their standards and guidelines for all our operations around Scotland’s wildlife. Wild Scotland’s members operate on the following principles ;
- Minimising any negative impact on local nature and culture.
- Promoting knowledge and respect for nature and communities and supporting local economies.
- Investing in enhancing Scotland’s natural heritage and improving environmental performance.
We’re a registered BSAC Snorkelling Centre No:191, meaning we have national accreditation for snorkel training and experiences.
We are a USEA Centre and Shane is also a USEA Master. USEA is the Undersea Soft Encounter Alliance. An international organisation of marine animal professionals who have committed to the soft encounter approach for interactions with marine mammals. We use this approach with our seal interactions.
Our operations are all WISE accredited. WISE is the body setup to ensure wildlife operators act with the highest knowledge, respect and appropriate behavior around marine wildlife. Along with our other environmental credentials we ensure that we adhere to and demonstrate best environmental practice.
We're honoured to part of the Global Shark Diving alliance. This is a group of shark businesses round the world who are striving to be best in their fields. All the businesses have the following commitments 1) Safety is a primary concern 2) Dedication to conservation and 3)Support & facilitate research. Have a look at the website and the global shark family here.
Through the Visit Scotland tourism authority we have been assessed and graded on a variety of critera to review our tours. This includes having an mystery vist on our tours to ensure impartial assessment. We are very proud to list that we acheived the highest award rating under 'wildlife experience' and reflects the hard work of our staff, the quality of our products, boats, gear etc. For more information about tourism and visiting Scotland - see the Visit Scotland website here.
In 2018 we were awarded the 'Best Outdoor/Adventure Experience' at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards. Of course we were delighted to be recognised for this award given the prestigious businesses and organisations in the area running great experiences. We do put a lot of effort into making our tours high quality, having good kit, amazing staff and investing in our business such as our brand new boat last season. See more details on the awards here.
Another success for us in 2018, was progressing through the entry, heats and then the final of the Scottish Edge competition. This is a dragons den style, business pitching competition. In the final round you give a business pitch in front of a packed theatre audience and judging panel and are then questioned on all aspects of your ideas! Again we are very lucky and delighted to make our way through some very stiff competition to become a winner. The award has helped up refit Cearban to allow us to continue to use her as a high end vessel. You can see more about our boats here and the edge competion here.