When exploring this incredible environment we must remember one thing above all else; we must leave this special place as we found it. That is why we follow the Seashore Code, so that the plants and the animals are protected and thrive and so that we stay safe too. So when you next venture down to the beach with your bucket, please remember the following:
- Leave live animals and seaweeds where you find them.
- Always replace overturned rocks – they are someone’s home!
- Take your litter home with you or put it in a bin.
- Take only photos, leave only footprints!
- Be careful on the shore at all times; check the tides and keep away from the cliffs.
- Report anything unusual washed up on the beach or spotted offshore.
How to avoid disturbing marine wildlife
Disturbance of marine wildlife can cause many problems, from stress and behaviour change to serious injury and death. Many species are now under serious threat from human disturbance. We can all make a difference and safely enjoy observing these beautiful animals by following some simple rules.
If you see marine wildlife being disturbed, please call Cornwall Wildlife Trust on their 24 hour hotline 0845 2012626 immediately and, if possible, take photos.
The advice below comes from the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. Visit their coastal code webpages for lots more information. www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk
Cornwall Wildlife Trust has a great page about seals and how to avoid disturbing them. www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk
If you see seals, watch for the signs of stress and take action:
- If a seal looks at you – stay still and quiet, avoid eye contact.
- If a seal moves towards the water – move slowly out of sight, you are already too close!
- If the seal enters the sea – any seal rushing into the sea has been compromised and disturbed. Seals that are rushing towards the sea may stampede, scaring others around them into a domino effect. Rushing seals are less careful and may gash their bellies or rip out claws.
- At all times watch the seals’ reaction and respect them by acting accordingly.
To avoid disturbing dolphins;
- Boats should always 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.
- Always avoid groups with mothers and young.
Boat owners can also become accredited through the WiSe (Wildlife Safe) scheme.WiSe provides training and accreditation for operators of registered passenger and charter vessels who wish to view marine wildlife. For more information visit www.wisescheme.org.uk.
The Cornwall Wildlife Trust website has lots of information on how to report your sightings and the importance of not disturbing these fascinating animals. www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk
To avoid disturbing basking sharks, observe the rules below. More information and a detailed code to download is available from the Cornwall Widlife Trust website: www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk
- Boat control near Basking Sharks -Restrict your speed to below 6 knots and avoid sudden speed changes. When closer than 100 m switch the engine to neutral to avoid injuring sharks. The viewing distance between the boat and large groups or courting sharks should be at least 500m.
- Swimming with Basking Sharks- Do not try to touch the sharks. Maintain a distance of at least 4 m from each shark and be wary of the tail. Groups of swimmers should stay together and ideally remain at the surface. Restrict the number of people in the water at any one time. Take plenty of pictures but avoid flash photography which can scare the sharks. Do not use underwater propelled devices.
- Jet-skis should stay at least 500 m away from Basking Sharks.
- Be extremely cautious in areas where Basking Sharks have been seen breaching.
- Remember that for every shark visible on the surface there are likely to be more hidden just below.
- Take time to observe the direction of movement of the Basking Sharks to anticipate their course – you can then position yourself for the best view.
How to know if you disturbing birds;
- Agitation and increased vocalisation.
- Circling around and stooping over you.
To avoid disturbing seabirds;
- Check out the Wildlife Trust’s wildlife sensitive map and avoid the areas highlighted between the dates stated.
- If you think you are disturbing and seabirds move slowly and quietly away from the site to a safe distance.
For more information see the Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s website: www.cornwallwildlifetrust.org.uk