Sharks – their very name can send shivers scudding down the spine, yet there’s something fascinating about these beautiful creatures.
Sharks measuring up to 33ft long arrive on the Argyll coastline around the start of May and it has been shown in research that up to 94 sharks have been seen in this area on one day.
Although these sharks have a mouth a metre wide, and weigh several tonnes, they only eat minute plankton, filtering millions of litres of sea water per day.
Despite the scary prospect of a 30ft hark in Scottish waters, the shark actually have more to fear from us than we have of them, says Shane Wasik of, Basking Shark Scotland, an Oban-based firm offering shark-sighing tours.
These gentle giants were extensively hunted until 1994 when they were protected in Scotland, but the population is still listed as internationally vulnerable.
Through government research it has now been shown that the Argyll area is a shark “hotspot” and instead of hunting these magnificent sharks this has inspired the start of an innovative tourism business.
Basking Shark Scotland is the only operator to offer boat excursions out to the islands of Mull, Coll and Tiree with the aim of snorkelling with basking sharks from Oban.
It offers single, two and three-day trips to see the sharks, which includes watching the abundant wildlife in the area such as whales, dolphins, eagles and otters, along with exploring the stunning Scottish islands, remote beaches, even natural wonders such as Fingal’s Cave, and phenomenon of the Corryvreckan whirlpool.
The trips are aimed at everyone from divers and photographers to wildlife enthusiasts and tourists looking for a big animal adventure experience, whether they have any experience or not.
Tour organiser Mr Waskik has a background in marine biology and a career which includes being a diver at Deepsea World, commercial diver and underwater photographer with interests in fishery and environmental protection.
“Given my background and experiences, I saw that Scotland is missing a beat with taking sustainable opportunities with its marine assets and, given that this model of marine tourism works overseas, why not Scotland?” said Mr Waskik.
Wildlife trips run from May to September, the months when the sharks take up residence in Scottish waters feeding on plankton and, possibly, mating.
The peak season is June until August, but the area is a shark and wildlife hotspot so those taking a trip can expect plenty of sightings and adventures.
The firm also offers swimming and diving tours in the rest of the year.