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Police Wildlife Officer

The Ministry of Defence Police Marine Unit has an appointed Wildlife Liaison Officer who is responsible for giving suitable advice and enforcing legislation with regard to the protection and preservation of wildlife, its habitat and the environment. The Port of Plymouth has a vast amount of conservation areas and an abundance of wildlife, most of which is protected, including their habitat. A Major concern with regard to the boating fraternity is the preservation of marine life. In the southwest we are privileged to often see and experience creatures like dolphins, basking sharks, whales and seals. When seeing these creatures we should be aware of their welfare and a general Code of Conduct suggested by experts who study these animals is shown below. Please follow the Code!

Code of Conduct When Experiencing Cetaceans

There is no reason why boats and dolphins, Basking sharks and whales (cetaceans), should not be able to co-exist if care is taken to observe the following rules:

  • Do not chase cetaceans or drive a boat directly towards them, wherever possible, let them approach you
  • Do not respond to them by changing course or speed in a sudden erratic manner. Slowing down or stopping suddenly can confuse and alarm dolphins as much as sudden acceleration
  • Avoid those with young
  • Do not swim with, touch or feed cetaceans, for your safety and theirs
  • Ensure that no more than one boat is within 100 metres, or three boats within one kilometre of cetaceans at any one time
  • Please spend no longer that 15 minutes near the animals
  • Do not dispose of any rubbish, litter or contaminants at sea.

If they approach the boat or bow-ride, maintain a slow speed and course until clear. Cetaceans should never be chased or harassed in an attempt to make them bow-ride. When watching dolphins, always let them decide what happens.

Remember that cetaceans use sound as a daily part of their life, for locating and communication with one another, detecting predators, and forming a picture of their underwater environment in often very dim light. Many of the sounds made by craft directly overlap the frequencies used by cetaceans, particularly those caused by cavitation of the propeller blade, producing a very loud broadband, high frequency noise. This causes interference with their daily activities, sometimes excluding them from preferred feeding or nursery areas. It can also lead to undue stress, particularly when mothers are pregnant or with small young. Scientific studies have shown that cetaceans respond negatively to craft moving directly at them, increasing the time they spend underwater, and often causing them to swim rapidly away from the sound source.

Please report and record sightings

Sighting date & location, species, number of animals, distinguishing marks, behaviour, environmental data (sea state), vessels and wildlife in area.

01803 771092 
or contact your MOD Police WLO for a sighting pack

Phone: 01803 771092 or 07712 587799

Web Site: http://www.brixhamseawatch.org.uk/

On Line Report form: http://www.brixhamseawatch.org.uk/report.html

Also report dead cetaceans
It is now an offence to recklessly disturb a place of rest or shelter of a protected animal or a nest site. In the case of cetaceans (whales, dolphins) and the Basking shark, intentional or reckless disturbance anywhere will be an offence. Countryside & Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW Act)

This information is supplied by the founder of Brixham Seawatch, Lindy Hingley and supported by the Ministry of Defence Police Wildlife Liaison Office, Constable Steve Farnes.