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How to stay safe on a whale shark boat tour

Safety on board a boat tour is a top priority as you want to make the most out of your tour whilst keeping yourself, the whale sharks and others on board safe. There are several safety measures to follow before and during your tour, from checking the weather before you go to listening to safety briefings, being prepared for seasickness and what to do when onboard to protect our environment. 

Check the weather and prepare accordingly 

When booking a whale shark snorkelling tour be sure to check the weather forecast and prepare accordingly. If your tour goes ahead and it is raining be sure to bring a poncho and be aware of slippery surfaces on board. Be kind to yourself and take it slow whilst also enjoying your day. 

Be sure to listen to the safety briefing

In case of an emergency you need to know how to respond, so listening to the safety briefing is one of the most important parts of your tour. You’ll be briefed on where bathrooms are, how to use a safety jacket, where safety equipment is stored, how to handle sea sickness, and how to keep whale sharks safe in their environment. 

Seasickness 

Whilst some passengers on a boat tour don’t have to worry about seasickness, it can really affect others. The best way to keep safe when you are experiencing this is firstly doing what you can to prevent it. Make sure you take motion sickness medication, have some ginger handy, get fresh air, look at the horizon, only eat plain food and try to stay out of the sun to prevent dehydration. If you are feeling like you will be sick, make sure you let someone know so they can take the appropriate steps to get you assistance whether that’s being sick into a bag or over the side of the boat. 

Take into consideration your limitations

Make sure you know your limits when entering the water to snorkel. Make sure you communicate with the team onboard if you have any concerns about your abilities. Although you don’t have to be an Olympic swimmer or have snorkelling experience, it is still important to be confident; otherwise you can ask for a flotation device such as a noodle or lifejacket. Don’t be afraid to ask, it’ll only make your experience better. 

Snorkelling with a whale shark

In order to keep yourself, others and whale sharks safe you need to keep your distance and noise to a minimum. When entering the water, slide in slowly from the boat feet-first and only kick your fins when you’re under the surface. Be sure to keep at least 3 metres of distance between yourself and the whale shark and keep calm. Whale sharks can sense if you are panicking and it will distress them. You want to make sure you are not disrupting their swim patterns or the way they are able to exist in their natural environment. 

Whale shark behaviour

It is important to know the signs and signals of distress with a whale shark when on a tour. If they begin to flip over to present their underside they want you to back off. Another sign that indicates a whale shark is uncomfortable is when they roll back their eyes. If you see any of these signs, be sure to back off so they are able to continue happily. 

Environmental boat safety 

Keep our oceans clean by throwing away your rubbish in a bin, never in the water. When you are applying and reapplying sunscreen be sure that it’s biodegradable. Sunscreens that aren’t biodegradable pollute and destroy our coral reefs, further affecting our oceans ecosystem. They also contain chemicals that can de-oxygenate our waters which adds to the dead zone problem being faced around the world. Biodegradable sunscreens are free from most chemical ingredients and are an eco-friendly way to not harm plant and animal life in the ocean. 

Hygiene safety

If you have COVID or any cold and flu symptoms before you are set to embark, make sure you contact your provider with ample amount of time to reschedule. Be sure to check the cancellation policy when you are booking to be sure you are aware of their offers. When on board be sure to use hand sanitiser throughout the day, wash your hands thoroughly and wear a mask if need be. 

Be sure to take these measures and precautions prior to boarding so you can be sure to enjoy your day and make the most out of snorkelling with these majestic creatures. Being aware of your behaviour onboard and helping others around you can make the biggest of differences.  Enjoy your day and stay safe.

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