WiSe on the Water

  • Marine Mammals
  • Other species
  • Rays & Skates
  • Sharks
  • Turtles
Years funded
  • 2014
  • Archived
Project types
  • Conservation
  • Education

Seeing wild animals in their natural habitat is an amazing experience, but getting too close to marine life can make them panic. Colin is teaching boat operators about how to interact with marine wildlife in a safe and sustainable way.

WiSe on the Water

Colin Speedie

Project leader
About the project leader

I was born in Aberdeen in the far north-east of Scotland within sound of the sea. My parents moved south to the coast of Devon when I was four years old and from that day on I grew up in, on and under the sea. I have never lived further than half a mile from it in my 58 years. The sea has been the single most important factor in my life, and its wild inhabitants have been my passion.

Project details

WiSe on the Water

Key objective

The key objective of this project is to create and deliver a high quality, easily digestible presentation targeting the boat-owning public that aims to reduce marine life disturbance. We will deliver this presentation to key audiences via a trained cadre of presenters at suitable gatherings throughout the UK.

Why is this important

Interactions between boats and marine animals can have a negative impact on wildlife. Mitigation of these negative interactions through the adoption of simple preventative measures, such as angle and distance of approach, and duration of encounter, will help to ensure that boat-owners are respectful and responsible around marine wildlife.


Since 2003, the WiSe Scheme programme has offered training and accreditation in safe and sustainable marine life watching to the commercial craft sector. A select and trained cadre of local instructors has run courses in all parts of the UK. Each regional course reflects the species make-up and conservation requirements of that area. Nearly 3,000 people have attended one of the commercial courses, and demand for training remains high.

For a long time Wise has wanted to develop a shorter, simpler course targeting members of the public who own a boat. Such a course would cover all of the main causes and effects of marine species disturbance, but without the wider elements of ecology and biology that are encompassed within the much longer, commercial course. The status of marine life within current (regional) wildlife law would form a core course element, as would the practical elements of what constitutes disturbance and its known effects over both the short and long term.

To examine the potential value of such an approach, WiSe created a simple public presentation for the west coast of Scotland as a pilot project. Delivered by existing WiSe instructors, these presentations have been given at gatherings of target audiences and they have been very well received. This project proposes to develop that concept further.

Aims & objectives

The aims and objectives of this project are to:

  • Reduce disturbance of marine life, including basking sharks, marine mammals and seabirds, by the boat-owning public through improved, targeted presentations.
  • Develop a wider public understanding of the effects of disturbance (physical actions and sound) through graphic ‘Codes of Contact’ online.
  • Recruit and train new presenters in each region to ensure that the public have a wider appreciation of existing wildlife law.
  • Review the concept at the end of the initial programme with the aim of reaching a more global audience.