Basking Shark Research Expedition

At the end of the summer, basking sharks start their southerly migration to the sub-tropics with one final aggregation in southern Argyll. During this period we run research expeditions to observe the sharks and explore different areas while gaining information on this stage of their migration. During these trips we have a different base on the Clyde rather than being in the Hebrides. We can still swim and photograph the sharks during these tours which are open to everyone.

Guests on these trips can be involved in our southerly migration study with the primary goals as follows:

  • Study abundance of southerly basking shark population
  • Record location, time, size, sex and behaviour of southerly basking sharks along with environmental factors
  • Record images and video of sharks for entry into shark fin ID catalogue
  • Analyse plankton samples from feeding and non-feeding areas
  • Analyse zooplankton samples for plastic to assess ingestion risk
  • Record cetacean sightings data (e.g porpoises/dolphin/whales)

Along with the study of the sharks we will have the opportunity to look for and record other exciting marine life such as whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals and seabirds during our time at sea. Passengers with enough experience will be able to swim with the sharks during these trips and we will be collecting underwater information about any sharks that we observe on the expeditions. Photographers and videographers are most welcome on the trips and will benefit from fewer passenger numbers on the boat than our usual trips. 

The expedition also includes a series of info-talks on the ecology and conservation of basking sharks by our trained marine biologists.

The minimum age on the trip will be 16 years ( although mature younger kids who would enjoy being involved in this style of survey would be welcome) and we encourage students or prospective marine science students as they will gain a lot of skills and survey experience. These trips are a great way to be involved in the real work of observing and recording large marine life. However the trip is open to everyone who has an interest in basking sharks, marine life and ocean adventure.

Please note the objective of this project is to study the sharks, their food and many other factors. Although we hope to be watching and observing them both in and out the water, the goal is gather quality data rather than like our tourism style tours during the summer season. Passengers will be expected to assist with taking measurements, data gathering and work up of samples.

The research expedition will run 29th Sep - 14th Oct and you have the option to join us for either 4 or 8 days at that time. Accomodation is base in chalets with either double or twin rooms, with single or double/twin occupancy.


Book Now - 4 Day


Book Now - 8 Day


Contact us

Trip Details

Meeting Point

We will meet you at Dunoon and then take you to our base for the trip. This will require a short ferry from Gourock which has great transport links to Glasgow via train or road. Otherwise you can also drive there if you are planning to drive yourself. More details of this can be found in our booking information documents which we will send to you on request. You will meet the evening prior to the first day of the expedition and stop at the supermarket for some supplies before driving to the expedition base. On arrival you will check in and we will do a short talk on what to expect over the following few days and your surroundings.

Day 1

The first day will start with an early talk on survey methods and scientific aims of the project before having some time to get ready before heading out on the boat. We aim to return around 4pm each day so we can work up our results from the day.

Day 2-8

Depending on the weather and previous day's results, we will use the morning to study our plankton samples and photo ID images from the day before.

Our survey route will depending on previous shark sightings and weather and changes on a daily basis. We can be 100m from our base or up to 40-50 miles away. 

In the afternoon, there may be some time available for snorkelling in the bay and we are in a fantastic dark sky location for night photography. In 2016 we even had a few nights with Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights).

On the last day, you will check out in the morning before heading out to sea. On return after working up the samples we will take you to meet the ferry in the evening.


Our base for this expedition is on a stunning peninsula which gives us close access to the Clyde but with many weather options.

Accommodation is in waterfront  wooden chalets with either two or three bedrooms per chalet. Bedrooms are either double or twin bed setup with separate bathrooms along with a large lounge and outdoor balcony. The expedition is self catering and there is a fully equipped kitchen attached to the lounge where you can prepare all your meals. 

Accommodation is arranged on a twin share basis however if you prefer you can also upgrade to single occupancy (limited numbers).

What's Included

  • 4-8 days research based expedition
  • Amazing wildlife, scenery and culture
  • Knowledgeable and experienced guides
  • Educational presentations on basking sharks, research techniques and photography
  • Training in plankton sampling and analysis
  • Hot drinks and home baking snack on board
  • Onboard binoculars, books and information guides
  • Snorkel option for gathering data on sharks
  • Shared lodge accommodation (single option available for additional cost).

What's Not Included

  • Equipment hire for snorkelling option - please see here for gear hire.
  • Weather or wildlife guarantees! Sorry we’d love to be able to do that and please remember this is research based.
  • Food - the tour is based on self catering accommodation. You have the opportunity to visit a supermarket on arrival and there is a local shop and hotels for evening meals. 
  • Travel (e.g ferry from Gourock) to the meeting point in Dunoon