Swimmers and Divers

Swimmer © Marc Dando.The following guidelines have been designed to help swimmers and divers reduce the risk of injuring or harassing Basking Sharks:

  • Do not try to touch the sharks.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 4m from each shark and be wary of the tail.
  • Groups of swimmers should stay together and ideally remain at the surface.
  • Restrict the number of people in the water at any one time.
  • Take plenty of pictures but avoid flash photography which can scare the sharks.
  • Photograph any characteristic features which may help re-identify the shark in the future.
  • Do not use underwater propelled devices.
Tip: Aim to anticipate the direction of movement of the sharks and enter the water 100m ahead of the sharks.

Basking Sharks are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981), the Countryside and Rights of Way Act (2000), the Northern Ireland Wildlife Order (1985) and the Nature Conservation (Scotland) Act (2004). These Acts make it illegal to intentionally kill, injure or recklessly disturb or harass Basking Sharks in British waters. Any person committing such an offence could face up to six months in prison and a large fine.

Internationally, Basking Sharks are listed under CITES Appendix II, CMS Appendix I and II and UNCLOS Annex I.

Download the Code of Conduct Poster (pdf)