Warning issued after reports of dolphins being harassed in Northumberland

Dolphins near the mouth of the River Tweed in Berwick.  Picture by Amber, Anita and Lisa from Berwick Dolphin Watch (Facebook Group)
Dolphins near the mouth of the River Tweed in Berwick. Picture by Amber, Anita and Lisa from Berwick Dolphin Watch (Facebook Group)

Irresponsible jet skiers and boat users have been warned they could drive local wildlife away from Berwick – and scare dolphins from the River Tweed.

In recent weeks, Northumbria Police have received two reports of a school of dolphins being harassed by people on the river.

On one occasion it is claimed somebody drove a jet ski towards the animals while it was also reported that a motorised sailing boat had done the same thing.

PC Paul Cullen works in the Northumbria Police’s Marine Unit and he is now urging people to take more care before they scare the dolphins away from the area for good.

He said: “While many people observe the dolphins in a sensible and considerate way, we’re concerned that some boat users are deliberately speeding towards the school and harassing them.

“It is illegal to harass, feed, chase and touch marine mammals in the wild – so reports of this nature are taken very seriously. This type of behaviour will not be tolerated and spoils it for everyone else.

“Anyone who witnesses this type of behaviour is urged to contact police so we can trace those responsible.

“Members of the public are also encouraged to take videos and photographs if they see this activity taking place which could really help our investigation.”

Police have also issued jet skiers and boat users with advice when wildlife is spotted on the river:

• It is illegal to harass, feed, chase and touch marine mammals in the wild.

• If dolphins approach the boat and/or bow-ride, maintain a slow, steady speed. Do not change course or turn back to them.

• Please keep your distance and never get closer than 100m (200m if another boat is present).

• Never drive head-on to, or move between, scatter or separate dolphins.

• If unsure of their direction, simply stop and put the engine in neutral. Avoid repeated changes in direction or speed.

• Spend no longer that 10 minutes near the dolphins and avoid groups of mothers and young completely.

Anyone with information is asked to contact officers by calling 101 quoting log 776 10/08/18 or by using its online form: https://www.northumbria.police.uk/forms/101_form/