From the Operator
Basking Shark Scotland is the only specialized basking shark operator based from Oban on the west coast of Scotland. We have tailored our vessels, staff, research and equipment to enable adventurous expeditions to find these gentle giants which migrate to the Hebridean islands. Our ethos is one of environmental best practice with our owner Shane Wasik and all staff being qualified in marine biology and adhering to stringent codes of conduct to ensure the sharks welfare is our highest priority. Our boats are MCA coded offshore cabin RIBs, which combined with a warm welcome at shore-based accommodation, ensures an optimal combination of shark finding strategy and guest comfort.
We offer a completely unique and world class shark experience set amongst the backdrop of outstanding highland scenery. Combine this with diverse diving and wildlife opportunities, the famous Scottish hospitality, culture, castles and whisky, then you have a shark trip like no other!
Shark Diving Experiences
Basking sharks are the world’s second biggest sharks and undertake huge oceanic migrations in search of their only food source- zooplankton. They appear in the Hebrides around May-Sept to coincide with the spring and summer Atlantic plankton blooms. Growing up to 12m long with a mouth over a meter wide, they can filter the equivalent of an Olympic sized swimming pool in only one hour! Recent international research has shown that the numbers of sharks migrating to the Hebrides is higher than any other place in the northern hemisphere and as such this makes it the worldwide hotspot for basking sharks!
All our shark interactions are by snorkel where we use our specific operational techniques to approach and interact with these prehistoric looking sharks. The sight of the huge mouth moving straight towards you is an exhilarating experience! The sharks can be found solitary in the open ocean or in schools of over 50 during peak planktonic times.
Lying on the Atlantic coast we operate in an archipelago of islands lined by white shell sand beaches and clear water washed by the Gulf Stream. An explosion of marine life happens in summer with huge schools of sprats, sand eels, mackerel and herring starting the Scottish sardine run. Minke whales, dolphins and numerous seabirds all arrive in the area for the feeding frenzy and it's a spectacular sight. Orca, sunfish and leatherback turtles are rare visitors to the area so during peak times anything can happen!
Our excursions round the Hebrides can also include visits to the famous Fingal’s Cave; comprised of basalt columns it inspired Mendelshohns ‘Hebrides Overture’. Enjoy an afternoon exploring the serene Iona Abbey, founded by Columba in 563 who brought Christianity to the region from Ireland. Or observing the majestic white-tailed sea eagles and Eurasian otters of Mull or spectacular puffin colonies of the Treshnish Isles.
The Hebrides offers fantastic temperate water diving and a completely different experience to what exists in most diver’s logbooks. We have large colonies of grey & harbor seals, which provide fantastic interactions with snorkelers and divers. Our kelp forests and soft coral reefs are exploding with marine life, and the island’s ferry pier is a world class dive site. With turbulent winters and historic trading routes we also have many wrecks which are covered in soft corals and anemones and provide a haven to large fish and lobsters. We even have amazing muck diving in our sea lochs where we have the world’s only large concentration of biogenic serpulid reefs, sea grass beds, maerl beds, along with opportunities to see fireworks anemones, sea pens and nudibranchs galore!
Shark Research & Conservation
Basking Shark Scotland is proud to be able to conduct valuable research during our expeditions. In only a few seasons of study, new scientific discoveries have been made such as fish piloting symbiosis along with the collection of a wealth of data. Our clients can be involved in this exciting research, with opportunities such as plankton sampling and identification, shark dorsal fin ID, distribution and behavioral observations e.g. breaching (basking sharks are the biggest breaching shark in the world!). Our videos and images have been used by many schools and education groups as part of marine education about the sharks and we give regular talks to a variety of community groups. In addition, our client’s images from their own underwater photography have been used for scientific purposes which is hugely exciting that our guests can be involved in pioneering scientific discoveries. Following just a couple of years of government research and intensive satellite tagging, it has been found that the largest concentrations of basking sharks migrate to the Hebrides in summer. On the strength of this research there is now a large scale MPA (marine protected area) proposal to ensure the sharks have adequate protection when migrating to these waters, as a large portion of the entire world’s shark population can be in our waters then it’s highly important we are able to provide a safe haven for them.