The WiSe Scheme
The UK's national training scheme for minimising disturbance to marine wildlife
The waters around the UK are home to a fantastic variety of marine wildlife, whether visible from the shore or from a boat. However, these wild animals are vulnerable to disturbance if not encountered in a manner that respects their wild nature.
The WiSe Scheme is about watching marine wildlife the wildlife-safe way.
Our aim is to promote responsible wildlife-watching, through training, accreditation and raising awareness. The WiSe Scheme is a simple modular training course aimed primarily at wildlife cruise operators, dive and service boats, yacht skippers and sea kayakers, plus people participating in coasteering, stand-up paddle boarding and wild swimming. These groups of people are most likely to come into contact with marine wildlife, as they are likely out on the water on a regular basis. We also seek to educate the general public who are keen to minimise their impact whilst out on or near the water.
Find out more: what is the WiSe Scheme?
If you are looking for a WiSe operator/guide for your next trip to the coast, see our listings of trained people, sorted by Region.
Forthcoming courses are listed below - see WiSe Course details.
We enhance people's understanding on how to avoid disturbing wildlife.
The WiSe Scheme seeks to minimise unintentional disturbance through
delivering training/accreditation to operators of registered passenger and charter vessels who wish to view marine wildlife responsibly;
delivering training/accreditation to professional practitioners involved in coastal/inter-tidal adventure activities;
working with operators of service and support boats that may interact with marine wildlife; and
liaising with key conservation agencies and organisations to offer advice and guidance.
Thousands of operators/marine professionals have now attended one or more of our WiSe courses, designed to ensure a solid understanding of how best to approach and interact with marine wildlife species, and focus on ways they can help minimise any unintentional disturbance from their activities on, in or near the water.
WiSe has developed Codes of Conduct to promote safe and sustainable watching our our basking sharks, whales, dolphins, seals and seabirds. All WiSe trained individuals have agreed to abide by the appropriate Codes for the wildlife they encounter.
There are primarily three levels of WiSe Scheme training, summarised below: the two professional levels of Standard WiSe course and a Master WiSe course, and a Public course for general awareness. In addition, the WiSe Scheme also now offers an Adventure WiSe course, targeting professional 'adventure' practitioners in the coastal/inter-tidal zone.
The Standard WiSe Course
This course level is the WiSe Scheme professional standard, is currently being delivered in an online format due to Covid-19 restrictions and lasts around 4 hours, usually over two evening sessions or one single daytime session.
WiSe members commit to abide by not only national and local laws on wildlife conservation and disturbance avoidance, but also the WiSe Codes of Conduct, in addition to any local wildlife-watching codes.
We recommend that after 3 years, all accredited individuals at this level then undertake a Master course to upgrade their level of membership.
A WiSe Scheme boat-sticker, flag and logo are provided for promotional use, along with copies of all Codes of Conduct.
The Master WiSe course
This is the WiSe Scheme professional standard 'Plus' - our gold-standard level of accreditation.
Generally, an individual is eligible for WiSe Master accreditation if they have been a standard WiSe member for 3yrs. They can then attend a Master Class course - this is usually a one day workshop to refresh skills and gain new knowledge, although we are developing a new webinar format as part of our move to online courses.
WiSe Masters commit not only to the WiSe Codes of Conduct and local codes, but also to provide sightings data to the relevant sightings collection organisation, plus provide photo-identification images to research groups where appropriate. WiSe Masters should refresh their skills by attending follow-up Master classes when held in their area.
The WiSe Master boat-sticker, flag and logo are provided for promotional uses, and any updates to Codes of Conduct.
The Adventure WiSe course *New for 2021*
This course has been developed to meet the needs of professional 'adventure' practitioners whose activities take place in the coastal/inter-tidal zone, such as sea kayaking, coasteering, stand up paddle boarding, wild swimming, etc.
Developed originally as a classroom and activity-based course, we have created an online version of the course to circumvent restrictions imposed by the current Covid-19 pandemic.
Accredited Adventure WiSe course attendees commit to abide by not only national and local laws on wildlife conservation and disturbance avoidance, but also the WiSe Codes of Conduct, in addition to any local wildlife-watching codes.
We recommend that after 3 years, all accredited individuals at this level then undertake a Master course to upgrade their level of membership. A WiSe Scheme Adventure course sticker and logo will be supplied for promotional use to all participants, along with copies of all Codes of Conduct.
Looking for WiSe trained Operators/Guides?
Find a responsible Boat Operator or Adventure/Wildlife Guide when choosing your wildlife-aware boat trip or coastal activity.
To find your nearest WiSe accredited organisation, download the relevant pdf from the list below for the region you're interested in.
If your local Operator isn't on the list, please tell them about the WiSe Scheme so they can get trained and listed.
Want to attend a WiSe Course to become WiSe trained or learn more?
Watch the videos below to get an introduction to watching wildlife the WiSe way.
WiSe Courses in 2021:
Covid-19 restrictions currently in place mean that we are unable to run our usual classroom-based courses at this time. Consequently, we have developed a range of online versions of those courses, to allow us to offer courses this spring. These will include our existing Standard course for all commercial boat operators and our new Adventure course, especially developed for near-shore based activities such as kayaking, coasteering, stand up paddle boarding, wild swimming, etc.
Dates confirmed so far for Spring 2021 online courses:
Standard WiSe course - West Scotland - 22nd/23rd February contact HWDT*
Standard WiSe course - SW England - 17th March
Standard WiSe course - NE England - 20th March contact Yorkshire Wildlife Trust*
Adventure WiSe course - National - evenings 22nd-25th March - Eventbrite booking link*
Where courses have an asterisk*, please book via the link/contact. Otherwise contact us (using form below) if you would like to book on one of the courses without a booking link or to find out more.
Note: Advance booking/payment is essential for all courses - Standard WiSe course cost is per attendee is £100 plus VAT (a discount may be available if 3 or more from the same organisation).
(When a Master Course is scheduled, although Standard/Adventure WiSe Scheme members are welcome to attend the Master course event, WiSe Master accreditation is generally only available to those who've been Standard (or Adventure) WiSe members for at least 3 years - see accreditation types above)
To find out more, reserve a place, or ask about the next course in your area, don't hesitate to contact us.