Published: 21/09/2017 08:50 - Updated: 21/09/2017 08:51

Concern over Moray Firth wildlife safety

Dolphins at Burghead A LOCAL touring company has spoken out against endangering wildlife.

Pippa Low of Findhorn Marina’s North 58° Sea Adventures responded to stories in the national media about several incidents in Scotland this summer involving dolphins, orcas and humpback whales which endangered not only the animals, but also boat operators.

She said: “With the public’s growing interest in wildlife, wildlife crime - marine and terrestrial - is on the increase. We see disturbances regularly with regards to the local seals.

“Other animals at sea tend to be followed by recreational boat users who, again, are curious to these incredible creatures.”

A number of incidents around Scotland are being investigated by Police Scotland including boats causing problems with dolphins at Chanonry Point on the Black Isle.

The whales, dolphins and porpoises which frequent our coastline are protected under the Conservation (Natural Habitats) Regulations 1994. This includes protection from disturbance (whether it be reckless or deliberate), harassment, killing and injury, with offences subject to a fine of up to £5000.

“Most of time it is curious people who just don’t know how to behave around wildlife,” said Pippa.

“They also often don’t realise how to keep their impact to a minimum ... but sometimes it’s hard to believe that they don’t know they are distressing the animals.”

North 58° skippers are qualified through the Wildlife Safe scheme and the business is an accredited operator with the education programme, designed to ensure tour boat operators know the best way to behave around wildlife. They are also accredited Dolphin Space operators – a local code of conduct for operators around the Moray Firth - and follow the Scottish Marine Wildlife Watching Code.

“Two of our senior skippers are Marine Biologists,” added Pippa. “We take the wellbeing of all wildlife very seriously.”

Police Scotland encourage anyone witnessing a suspected wildlife crime to contact 101 with details of the boat or craft involved.

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