Whale Shark Regulations

Whale Shark Rule and Regulations

Southern Environmental Association “is a non-governmental organization (NGO) that continuously works towards improving stewardship and the environmental integrity of key marine areas in southern Belize.
SEA manages whale shark tourism at Gladden Spit in Belize, with direct input from a whale shark working group made up of national stakeholders. A set of guidelines to ensure a safe and ecologically-sound experience for everyone, including the whale sharks, has been developed and is listed below.

  • No Camera Flash is allowed on the whale shark dives.
  • If you are planning to use an SLR Camera or larger, or use the images for professional/commercial purposes you must obtain a film permit from Southern Environmental Association.
  • Dive and snorkel tours will be limited to 1 1/2hr (one and one-half hour) time slots for the entire season, allocated by lottery.
  • A maximum of 6 (six) dive and/or snorkel boats will be permitted inside the larger buoy area known as the Whale Shark Zone at any time.
  • All tourists – divers, snorkelers and observers – must pay a mandated fee of US$15 (fifteen US dollars) per person.
  • Divers and snorkelers should remain at least 15 (fifteen) feet away in any direction from a whale shark. Don’t approach the whale shark, instead let it approach you, it is only curious.
  • Absolutely No touching, chasing, or molesting whale sharks will be permitted
  • Anyone touching a whale shark is liable for a BZ$10,000 (ten thousand Belize dollars) fine.
  • Maximum depth for divers of any certification is 80 (eighty) feet
  • Dive and snorkel boats must approach all whale sharks at idle speed(not exceeding 2 (two) knots), and maintain idle speed in the vicinity of the whale sharks.
  • Dive, snorkel and fishing boats should maintain a distance of at least 200 (two hundred) feet between each other oats should remain at least 50 (fifty) feet from any whale shark
  • Entry in the water should be no later than 4PM (16:00 hours), and all divers and snorkelers should be out of the water by 5PM (17:00 hours), and out of the reserve by 5:30PM (17:30 hours).
  • Any person who wishes to conduct whale shark tours must have a valid tour guide license, dive master certification (for SCUBA), skin diver certification (for snorkelers) and a certification of graduation from an approved whale shark course.
  • Any boat used for whale shark tours for the 2008 season must be at least 23 feet long and no longer than 48 feet.
  • Any boat used for whale shark tours must carry oxygen, safety sausages, radio, and lights.