Concerns that marine wildlife is being 'harassed'
10:02am Tuesday 28th August 2012 in News
Cornwall Wildlife Trust says there are concerns about boat and water users 'harassing' marine wildlife around the coast.
The trust says that while it has been inundated with reports from the public of dolphins, sunfish, seals and whales spotted off the coast, along with these happy sightings comes bad news.
Several reports have also come in about 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.
Sue Sayer, from Cornwall Seal Group says, “Seals are particularly vulnerable to disturbance as they need to come out on land regularly to rest and digest their food. Flushing hauled seals into the sea in the summer may seem harmless, but the cumulative effects can be devastating.
At this time of year heavily pregnant females carry their unborn pups in their bellies, so a quick dash over rocks to the sea can lead to fatal injuries for both mother and pup”
Sue continues. “Mums need to get fat ready to intensively feed their pups and need to be in tip top nutritional condition, not tired and stressed, as this leads to underweight pups that simply will not survive their first winter”
Sue urges sea all users to download specific advice and guidance on carrying out their sport or leisure pursuit in a ‘seal friendly’ manner from www.cornwallsealgroup.co.uk .
Abby Crosby, Marine Conservation Officer for Cornwall Wildlife Trust says, “We are lucky enough to get 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.