A Spotlight on Dan The Merman

Their story as a Wild Scotland Member

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Dan Coyle doesn’t just walk the walk he swims the swim. The former PE teacher takes you in a full body, mind and soul experience not just to explore but to fall in love with Scotland's marine and coastal world.

Having found himself in Argyll through circumstance, it was in fact in reality a return to his roots and to a location and sustainable tourism business that enabled him to live out his eco values.


Dan's commitment

Dan’s commitment to living more lightly on the earth extends to his business and the safe and positive  wild swimming experiences he  shares with his guests. Working within the Argyll and  the Isles marine “hope spot”, as designated by Mission Blue, an area scientifically identified as critical to the health of the ocean. Hope Spots are championed by local conservationists, like Dan, who are  supported by Mission Blue, with communications, expeditions and scientific advice.

Amongst 146 “hope spots” globally, Argyll and the Isles act as a lighthouse, a beacon to show the importance and need to protect  coastal and marine waters. 

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A considered approach

It is that respect for the local environment that informs all of Dan’s decisions regarding where the tours with guests take place and importantly how he and they arrive there. He endeavours to access most locations by e-bike and has seen many more guests follow his example. This is not only a more sustainable transport choice, but is incentivised by the promise of accessing, “harder to reach” spots. He encourages car sharing by guests to a location, even those who until then didn't know each other, to enable social contacts to be made.

The Scottish Outdoor Access Code is inherent to his approach and is explained to all tour participants. He carefully assesses the sensitivity of each arrival point, deciding how frequently and how many people he will take, in order to reduce their impact on the  place, but too, to ensure the safety and quality of the  experience for the guests. For Dan it's more than just the swimming, it's the total immersion into the landscape, culture and nature. He sees first-hand how these can be life affirming, lifestyle changing experiences for some people. Whilst lightening the impact on the land and sea, he sees how being truly connected to nature can maximise the impact on people’s well-being, and their consideration of how they can live more sustainably.


Shared ethics

Dan’s sustainable business may seem small on the surface, but like the environment within which he operates, it has many hidden depths and interconnections to others across a large rural area. He works with those who share his eco ethics across accommodation and food providers, as well as community organisations, such as Wild Argyll. Recent collaboration with other Wild Scotland members such as Provident Sailing and Heathery Heights will bring new sustainable products that literally connect guests with the land and sea. Helping them to understand how people interact at this crucial environment intersection.

Dan espouses the principles of leave no Trace and encourages guests to follow them. He leads by example, picking beach litter wherever found, with guests then understanding and normalising the clean up mentality and actions. Important too are the discussion about how such plastic waste in particular is generated in the first place by our collective choices.

Wellness, principles and community

Environmental and personal well-being are at the heart of Dan’s business and living his sustainable principles in his life and business ensure he is authentic to his passions.

Living and  working in remote rural areas come with many challenges though and integrated public transport of course is a significant barrier to greater sustainability. A lack of real support, or a lack of access to information, for businesses seeking to make more sustainable choices has been apparent, with a grant available for e-bikes to commute to work but non available for those for whom it is their work. Dan's interconnectivity within the community has been valuable in gaining access to an e-bike that enables him to meet and connect with his guests. Surely better incentives for sustainable transport options to budget people for those choices has to be something not just for the cities but for rural areas too.

It is Dan’s first-hand experience in seeing the environmental and well-being economy up close that convinces him of the merits of reducing the working week for all. This would  really address the work life balance that many struggle with. Resulting not just in a reduction in  carbon emissions, getting us closer to those net zero targets, but increasing the opportunities for people to connect with each other and with nature, creating a healthier and happier nation.

For Dan he can guide many to be immersed in Scotland’s waters, clearing the mind, encouraging empathy and truly opening eyes and minds to change attitudes and behaviours that will benefit people and nature. 

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