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One of the businesses featured in The Oban Times of November 15 was Oban-based Basking Shark Scotland, run by Shane and Nikki Wasik.
They were among among a number of Argyll winners at the Highlands and Islands Tourism Awards, winning in the category for the best outdoor experience.
Basking Shark Scotland is a company that specialises in tours which interact with basking sharks.
Marine biologist Shane set up Basking Shark Scotland in 2012 after living in New Zealand. With diving and underwater photography experience, Shane decided to turn a transformational childhood experience of swimming with basking sharks into a business.
Since then the company has grown, thanks in part to support from Business Gateway Argyll and Bute.
With the commissioning of a new 12m bespoke boat designed and built specially for what Shane and his team does, Basking Shark Scotland is now able to offer customers more offshore destinations and expeditions.
Shane said: ‘We’re very excited about our new vessel which was a significant investment but one we felt ready to make. It’s completely bespoke for what we do so we’re delighted with it and what we can offer our clients.
‘Although our business is seasonal, we have gone from strength to strength over the past six years. Scotland is the number one basking shark hotspot and our success shows just how interested people are in these creatures.
‘We have visitors from all over the world booking with us as they want the thrill of swimming with the sharks or watching them from the boat, while taking in the huge variety of sea life, wildlife and geological wonders this area has to offer.’
Initially running the business on his own, Shane now has a team of six in the summer, consisting of two full-time employees, two seasonal and two summer guides, all of whom are experts in their field. The tours range from one day to a week long and customers can also take part in a number of activities including wild swimming, free diving, snorkelling, kayaking and stand up paddle boarding.
Shane added: ‘My childhood experience of swimming with basking sharks made me interested and passionate about marine biology and diving which have been in my life since.
‘I knew that if we did things right, I could share this passion with others and help them experience something amazing. By combining sea life, education, photography and activities, our tours allow to people to experience free wildlife in their own environment which is a fantastic experience.’