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Marine Harassment Fears

news - Basking Shark
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5:17am 28th August 2012
(Updated 5:17am 28th August 2012)

There is a warning seals, sharks and dolphins off the Cornish coast are being harassed.

Cornwall Wildlife Trust said it is getting reports of boats and kayakers getting too close to watch the creatures.

Marine Conservation Officer Abby Crosby said: "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.

"It is important that all people using any vessel on the sea familiarise themselves with our marine code of conduct and adhere to it to make sure we can still enjoy watching these beautiful animals whilst protecting them at the same time."

photo by Abby Crosby
Photo by Abby Crosby

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

Dave Jarvis of British Divers Marine Life Rescue said: "The code of conduct states that boats 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."

Jan Loveridge of the Cornwall Wildlife Trust's Marine Strandings Network adds: "Sadly, we have found stranded dolphins and seals that have been hit by boats and killed. It's particularly disturbing when it's a baby or youngster that obviously wasn't able to dive quickly enough to avoid getting hit by a boat propeller. We don't want to stop anyone having fun, but those with speed or pleasure boats need to be aware of the consequences of their lack of thought or consideration."

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.

5:17am 28th August 2012

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