3 ways to swim with sharks

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

This bank holiday weekend I did something extreme. Something in my wildest dreams I never thought I'd be up for. Something I would never normally consider as a recreational activity...

...I jumped feet first into the water with the second largest living fish in the world - a Basking Shark.

And the experience was truly amazing. So if you want to do the same:
  1. Get yourself over to Oban, or the Isle of Coll, Scotland
    To get to Coll you can catch a 3-hour ferry from Oban, on the West Coast of Scotland. The ferry is only £10 each way, a real bargain and you get to travel through some very pretty landscape. My friend and I travelled to Oban by train from London, changing in Glasgow on the way. Here's a link to the ferry timetable.
  2. Connect up with Shane Wasik – Owner/Operator of Basking Shark Scotland
    Great guy, knows his stuff, will make sure you have a blast - and supplies home baking on board the boat! The Isle of Coll 2013 season is coming a end now, but I believe Shane's already taking group bookings for 2014 - so I would recommend you get in there. Here's his Basking Shark booking form. Shane also runs tours from Oban most of the year - so if you want to go sooner no probs. 
  3. Make sure you can swim, struggle into a 7mm wetsuit (available to hire if you don't own one), big gulp and into the water you go.
    Easy as that.
Here are some pics from the long weekend...

Watching a Basking Shark swim under our boat - Isle of Coll, Scotland
Watching a Basking Shark from the boat. That's me second from the right. 
Photo by Shane @ Basking Shark Scotland

Swimming with a Basking Shark - Isle of Coll, Scotland
Swimming with Basking Sharks. If you're in the right spot these guys come pretty close and are amazing to observe. Luckily they're plankton-eating sharks, so there's no fear of ending up a shark sandwich.
Photo by my lovely friend who had a underwater camera.

Swimming with a Basking Shark - mouth wide open - Isle of Coll, Scotland
Basking sharks are slow moving filter feeders. They have a huge mouth mouth, which they swim with open while feeding and highly developed gill rakers. The gill rakers are dark and bristle-like and are used to catch plankton as water filters through the mouth and over the gills.  
Photo by my lovely friend who had a underwater camera.

View of a Basking Shark from the boat - Isle of Coll, Scotland
I took this pic from the boat as a Basking Shark swam by. 

Group of swimmers with three Basking Sharks - Isle of Coll, Scotland
Group of swimmers with three Basking Sharks. 

Basking Shark - Isle of Coll, Scotland

Isle of Coll, Scotland
 Arinagour - the main settlement on the Isle of Coll, and where the ferry dropped us off.

Isle of Coll Community Centre and Bunkhouse where we stayed
Isle of Coll Community Centre, and attached accommodation - Coll Bunkhouse, where we stayed. 

TESCo - Isle of Coll, Scotland
The local 'TESCOs'

Biking on the Isle of Coll, Scotland
After a day and a half on the water I decided to use my last morning to explore the island a bit more and hired a bike to get around. What followed was a rather tiring ride, all the way to Sorisdale Bay on the North-Easten tip. The landscape was worth the effort.

Empty ruin at Sorisdale Bay - Isle of Coll, Scotland
 Empty ruin overlooking Sorisdale Bay.

Sorisdale Bay - Isle of Coll, Scotland
The water was crystal clear here, as you can see in this photo.

Thanks to Shane and Cam @ Basking Shark Scotland for an amazing weekend. If you want to see some more pics check out the Basking Shark Scotland Facebook page here.

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  1. Holy moly. That is a VERY different experience to my trip to Edinburgh, you're right! Looks amazing xx


  2. Hi! Just discovered your blog :)
    I had no idea you could swim with sharks in scotland!!! This is no on my 'to do' list (hoping to go to scotland soon!) I swam with whale sharks in australia and loved it!
    Your photos are beautiful! Thanks for sharing!
    ps : have you got GFC so I can follow you?

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Hi Bel,
      Thanks for your comment :) You're the first person who's asked me for GFC, which I've now added to this blog, so follow to your hearts content.
      Love your latest post too - Montreal is such a cool city.
      Ciao xx

  4. Awesome trip report Claire! Great to have you with us, so much shark action!

  5. Wonderful. You should have a lot of fun during your trip. It must have been more exciting to see dolphins oban. They're wonderful.