Practices enable fun, safe and environmentally sustainable observations of the world’s largest fish
Friend of the Sea, the preeminent global certification standard for products and services that respect and protect the marine environment, has launched the first-ever sustainable whale shark watching standard. The standard enables people to observe and even swim with the world’s largest fish without harming them or their habitats. It joins Friend of the Sea’s standards for dolphin and whale watching and manta ray watching.
“There’s a misconception that because whale sharks are so big, a comparatively tiny human being cannot harm them. Unfortunately, this is far from true,” said Paolo Bray, Director of Friend of the Sea. “Human activity can damage the whale shark’s habitat and affect its health.” Whale sharks can grow to be up to 20 meters in length.
The whale shark watching standard is comparable to the organization’s standard for sustainable dolphin and whale watching. It establishes a maximum number of vessels that can be in a given area at any one time. Swimmers are not permitted to touch the whale sharks and must keep a minimum distance from the animals. The standard includes training for tour operators on how to instruct people to swim with the whale shark. It encourages scientific data collection. Single-use plastics are prohibited on board the tour boats.
Operators can apply confidentially to be accredited for the standard. The certification is voluntary and not mandatory to gain access to markets. The application process is not discriminatory based on the size, scale, management and minimum number of operators.
The application is available online at: