Maldives Resilient Reefs, Maldives Whale Shark Research Programme and Blue Marine Foundation have launched the #BeGentleToGiants campaign, which seeks to encourage both tour operators and tourists to protect whale sharks from the negative effects of marine encounters.

The campaign centres around a concise new Code of Conduct which demonstrates the correct way to experience these amazing creatures and ensures appropriate measures are being taken to respect and protect whale sharks.

This whale shark code of conduct can be distilled down to four main principles: 

  • Speed: Vessels should keep their speed low (less than 10kts) and should never join an ongoing encounter.
  • Sound: Whale sharks are disturbed by noise. Engines should be off or idle and tourists should enter the water smoothly and calmly. 
  • Space: Give the shark space. Keep at least 3m from the shark, do not obstruct the shark or cause it to change direction. Most importantly, do not touch! 
  • Support: Take lots of photos! You can submit your photos to the local research group, or enter them into the global whale shark database. This information can provide researchers with valuable data that can help to protect the sharks. 

The campaign was created as a collaborative programme to help the whale shark industry in the Maldives become more sustainable by working with government, tour operators and tourists to foster a more responsible, less harmful approach.

As Swim with Whale Sharks explored this issue, they found that many of the common problems occurred across regions, suggesting a global approach could be a key piece of the puzzle.

Consequently, Swim with Whale Sharks have created code of conduct films for several regions that use beautiful footage and simple messaging to illustrate what a whale shark encounter should look like and how tourists and tour operators can work together to achieve this.

Multiple versions of the film are available, including a full, in-depth version to provide tourists with insight about whale shark interactions before they travel, as well as a short reminder of the code of conduct designed to be played before entering the water.

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