Wildlife Being Harassed In Cornwall

The sun has come out and with it our marine life has exploded into action! 

Cornwall Wildlife Trust has been inundated with reports from the public of dolphins, sunfish, seals and whales spotted off our coast over recent weeks, proving how wonderful our seas are and how rich in life they are. 

Cornwall Wildlife Trust has had several reports of wildlife being harassed, having been followed by sea users around Cornwall's coastline. 

These reports include boats getting dangerously close to basking sharks near Sennen Cove and kayakers disturbing seals at numerous locations on the north and south Cornish coast. 

17 species of whales, dolphins and porpoises, the internationally rare and magnificent basking shark and resident and visiting seals around the South West. The last thing we want to do is to drive these animals away from our coast and their feeding and breeding grounds. 

The law (Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981) states that it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly harass any dolphin, porpoise, whale or basking shark. 

A conviction carries the maximum sentence of £5000 and/or six months imprisonment. 

You can download specific advice and guidance on carrying out their sport or leisure pursuit in a 'seal friendly' manner from www.cornwallsealgroup.co.uk 

Many marine conservation organisations understand the importance of protecting wildlife in Cornwall and urge people to be considerate and follow the code of conduct. 

  • You should stay 100m away from dolphins. 
  • Of course at times dolphins will actively come over to a boat, as they are curious animals. 
  • In this instance boats should switch their engines into neutral and they should not actively pursue the dolphins when they move away. 
  • The code also tells boat owners to totally avoid groups with mothers and young. 

To raise awareness of the issue, Cornwall Wildlife Trust have developed a code of conduct to explain the best way of watching these animals safely if you encounter them at sea. 

This can be downloaded from www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/coastalcode Any suspected harassment incidents should be reported immediately to the Police Wildlife Liaison Officer on 101. 

A verbal report should be supported with footage and/or photographic evidence if at all possible. 

Boat owners can also become accredited through the WiSe (Wildlife Safe) scheme. WiSe provides training and accreditation for operators of registered passenger and charter vessels who wish to view marine wildlife. 

For more information visit www.wisescheme.org.uk Cornwall's environmental organisations have joined forces to create a wildlife disturbance register and all incidents recorded will help to effectively manage this disturbing issue. 

To report a disturbance please call Cornwall Wildlife Trust on their 24 hour hotline 0845 2012626 or www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk/coastalcode