The Mouth – Bournemouth – Poole – Christchurch

DWT warns against marine wildlife disturbance

Dorset Wildlife Trust (DWT) has received reports of dolphin sightings off the Dorset coast in recent weeks and wants to raise awareness of the care that water users should take to avoid disturbance and distress caused when coming into close contact with marine wildlife.

Concerns have been raised over a young, possibly male, solitary bottlenose dolphin, which has been sighted on a few occasions, including on the recent DWT Oceans Cruise in Purbeck.  On a separate occasion, DWT has received reports of jet skis and boats approaching and circling the dolphin near Swanage.

Some dolphins may approach boats and people, bow-riding, and breaching out of the water repeatedly, but watercraft should keep back a good distance and avoid surrounding dolphins to prevent any risk of collision or prop injury.  If a dolphin approaches, it is recommended to maintain a slow and steady course.  It is important not to make sudden or erratic movements.

Emma Rance, DWT’s Marine Conservation Officer said, “Every dolphin I have had the pleasure of seeing in Dorset is a marvel and I would love every person to share that experience.  However, we must all be mindful that these mammals are highly sensitive; one wrong move in a boat can have catastrophic consequences, not just physically but psychologically for them.  Most people just want to get a closer look or a photo, and do not intentionally want to harm these creatures, so I urge everyone to familiarise themselves with the Code of Conduct and share it far and wide.”

All cetaceans are protected by law under the Wildlife & Countryside Act 1981*.

For more information on the Cetacean Watching Code of Conduct or how to report dolphin harassment, visit www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk/dorsetdolphins.

Please send any sightings of dolphins or other marine mammals to DWT via facebook (/DorsetWildilfe) or Twitter @DorsetWildlife.

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