Whale shark is the biggest fish in the world! Although it can reach up to 20 meters in length, this shark is totally harmless to humans.

Interactions with these gentle giants have increased significantly, and anyone can swim with them simply by doing snorkelling.

Unfortunately, these contacts with humans may be bad for whale sharks, and for this reason we have created rules of conduct that aim to protect these beautiful animals.

The standard, made in collaboration with Deni Ramirez from Whale Shark Mexico, is applicable to all tour operators who want to do responsible tourism and protect whale sharks.

whale shark snorkelling fos sustainable certification

The Standard

Friend of the Sea Sustainable Whale Shark Watching standard seeks to minimise unintentional disturbance through key principles of conduct.

Friend of the Sea criteria for Sustainable Whale Shark Watching require:

  • don’t touch whale shark;
  • minimum distance from whale shark;
  • how to swim with whale shark;
  • training programmes for operators and crew;
  • scientific data collection;
  • no single-use plastic onboard.


Would you like to receive a quotation for Friend of the Sea audit and royalties to use our logo?
Please fill out the online Preliminary Information Form (PIF) and send back to quality@friendofthesea.org


  • All the information will be kept strictly confidential and implies NO commitment from your company.
  • The Friend of the Sea certification is voluntary and NOT mandatory to gain access to markets.
  • The application process is NOT discriminatory on size, scale, management and minimum number of operators.
  • Friend of the Sea is a NGO and it strives to make participation in the audits affordable for all companies.
  • Please, contact us for more information on Government funding which might be available in your Country for sustainability certifications: info@friendofthesea.org