Yesterday afternoon (Saturday 20th July) at approximately 3.30-4pm in the Camel Estuary, near the Port Hand buoy, off Daymer Bay and Trebetherick Point, reports were received of as many as 25 small vessels harassing a pod of bottlenose dolphins.
Boats starting to congregate at the area where the group of bottlenose dolphins were first spotted. Many boat users acted responsibly and observed the animals from a distance. Shortly after this picture was taken, a number of speeding boats crossed over the pod and between the boats.
Very soon after, a carcass was reported to have been found at the scene. The death is believed to be as a result of the harassment. This photo is of a juvenile bottlenose dolphin that is believed to have been killed as a result of the incident. It was taken by the crew of a Padstow sightseeing vessel. When they first spotted the dolphin there was signs of blood in the water around the animal, as if recently struck. This photograph was taken later when the crew unsuccessfully attempted to recover the body but took pictures for reference.
There is a general appeal for information as it is believed that there were a number of private, commercial and sightseeing vessels in the area at that time. The Padstow sightseeing vessels are all trained in how to behave responsibly around wildlife and there is no insinuation that they are involved, however passengers may have been witness to the harassment by other vessels.
Sea Shepherd UK and Dive Master Insurance have offered a combined reward of £2000 for any information that leads to a conviction,
Harassment of dolphins is a serious wildlife crime under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. The law states that it is an offence to intentionally or recklessly harass any dolphin, porpoise, whale or basking shark. A conviction carries the maximum sentence of £5000 and/or six months imprisonment.
If you saw anything If you or anyone you know witnessed this incident or any others like it in other areas, please please call 101 and ask to speak to a Devon and Cornwall Police Wildlife Crime Officer, quoting log reference 399 210713. Ideally, the Police need a description of the vessels (colour, registration, etc) involved and/or photos or video. Alternatively, please contact BDMLR.
Thank you to all those concerned callers who have already provided valuable information. More is needed though so please do not hesitate to contact either the police or ourselves if you saw or heard anything. Your calls will be treated in the strictest confidence.
The carcass was unable to be recovered so if anyone finds it please report it immediately to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Marine Strandings Network on 0345 201 2626.
This is a joint appeal from British Divers Marine Life Rescue and the Cornwall Wildlife Trust.
These inshore bottlenose dolphins are nationally rare and even just losing one will threaten the populations. To learn more about codes of conduct around marine wildlife when exploring our coastline please see here.
Press – for more information please contact Faye Archell at British Divers Marine Life Rescue on 07919 551328.
BDMLR Operations Manager