Warning to fast craft
Over recent months, MWDW has received increasing reports of fast craft, especially jet-ski’s, operating recklessly around coastal marine life, in particular our resident bottlenose dolphins, Moonlight and Starlight.
We wish to make all vessel users aware that these two dolphins come particularly close into our bays, especially Peel and Ramsey, sometimes within just a metre or two of the shoreline. They can enter the bay at any time of day and during any tidal state. The dolphins can be easily missed during windy weather when the sea is choppy. We ask that you remain vigilant at all times and behave respectfully if you are lucky enough to come across them. There is a code of conduct in place which should be followed.
Dolphins are inquisitive mammals and many species, such as bottlenose, do like to bow ride with vessels, but it is important that this in done on their terms.
If you come across Moonlight and Starlight at sea, you must:
- Slow down!
- Remain parallel to the dolphins, with at least 100m distance, unless they approach to bow or wake ride. Do not approach from directly behind or front on.
- Maintain a slow steady course, no erratic movement or stop starting
- Try to stay nearside to the coast, so as not to chase the dolphins in or out of the bay
Harassment of any marine animal in Manx waters is punishable by law under the Wildlife Crime Act 1990
Section 9. (4A) Subject to the provisions of this Part, any person who intentionally or recklessly disturbs any wild animal included in Schedule 5 or —
(a) a dolphin or whale (cetacean);
(b) a basking shark (cetorhinus maximus);
(c) a seal (all species) (pinnepedia)
or (d) a turtle (marine) (all species) (dermochelydiae and cheloniidae),
shall be guilty of an offence.
Section 22 Penalties, forfeitures etc:
(2) Subject to subsection (6), a person guilty of an offence under section 9 or 11(1) or (2) shall be liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding £5,000.35
What to do if you witness a vessel behaving recklessly around a cetacean?
Where possible, take video and note down the vessel’s registration number. Send any evidence into MWDW and we will inform the Wildlife Crime officer.
The code of conduct below applies to all cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and separate CoC’s exist for basking sharks and seals.
Jet-skis can seriously harm cetaceans, either by altering their behaviour, or by causing physical harm to the animal. Likewise, a run in with a 13ft long, 600kg dolphin, can cause serious harm to the jet skier.