Police urge for help protecting region's wildlife

Beach-goers and day-trippers are being urged to respect the wildlife after reports of jetskiers harassing dolphins off the Northumberland coast.

By David Sedgwick
Monday, 2nd August 2021, 10:31 am
PC Paul Cullen from Northumbria Police’s Marine Unit.

Last month, Northumbria Police’s Marine Unit were contacted by concerned residents after dolphins swimming just off the coast of Blyth were approached a group of people on jet-skis who nearly collided with the mammals.

Officers were able to view footage and photographs of the incident and while they were satisfied it was not malicious, they are keen to educate the public on how to behave around them.

PC Paul Cullen, from Northumbria Police’s Marine Unit, said: “We know most people get really excited when they see dolphins in our waters and understandably want a closer look.

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“However, we have a responsibility to keep our wildlife safe and ensure they don’t get distressed or feel threatened in their natural habitat.

“While this year we have seen far fewer incidents of the dolphins being harassed, we would still ask people to be cautious while around them, especially on jet-skis and speedboats as they can have devastating consequences.

“The most important thing to remember is if you do see dolphins, please place your engines in neutral until they have moved away from you – and please, never get closer than 100m to them.

“It’s worth mentioning the majority of people observe the dolphins and behave in a considerate manner but it can only takes a couple of instances to frighten them away for good.”

PC Cullen added: “Remember it is illegal to harass, feed, chase and touch marine mammals in the wild and you can be prosecuted for these offences.

“We really appreciate the passion people have in protecting wildlife and I encourage all members of the public to carry on doing so and helping us investigate marine crime.”

Members of the public are also encouraged to take videos and photographs if they see any activity of dolphins being harassed by people on jet-skies and share them with the police.

Anyone who sees inappropriate behaviour, is asked to report it to the Marine Unit by using the Tell us Something page on the police’s website.