Dolphins harassed by boat and jet ski in Weymouth Bay

Dolphins harassed by boat and jet ski in Weymouth Bay

Published by Maria Greenwood at 11:49am 8th June 2020. (Updated at 12:02pm 8th June 2020)

There are calls for boat and jet ski owners to be better educated when it comes to encounters with wildlife.

It's after three dolphins were harassed in Weymouth Bay.

The incident which lasted half an hour, was filmed on a mobile phone by someone on board one of the cruise ships currently moored there.

It shows the dolphins getting distressed while being pursued by a boat and a jet ski.

British Divers Marine Life Rescue Welfare Development and Field Support Officer Dan Jarvis, who was passed the footage for advice, described the incident as a textbook case of how to do virtually everything wrong.  

He said:

"Although the boat is occasionally very close to the animals, it usually remains stationary or moves at slow speed, so isn't causing a problem most of the time except for a few occasions when they turn and directly follow the dolphins, but at one point they cut right across in front of them and it appears that they very nearly struck them." 

"By comparison, the jet ski is mostly moving at high speed with numerous erratic turns in close proximity, repeatedly cutting in front of the dolphins who are forced to change direction several times, are showing signs of distress throughout, and at one point even split up."

bottlenose dolphin

Dolphins and whales are protected from intentional or reckless disturbance by the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.

Offenders may be fined or even receive a jail sentence if found guilty.  

Voluntary codes of conduct on how to minimise and avoid disturbance to marine animals are freely available online covering a variety of species and human activities that may encounter one another.

Dan said:

"If you are out on the water then you must take responsibility and learn how to act properly around animals like dolphins, seals and seabirds using the widely available free online resources.  

It is their home that we are visiting, and we should behave responsibly." 

The footage has been passed on to the Marine Management Organisation and Dorset Police, but the footage was filmed too far away to identify the individuals or watercraft involved.