On The Sea

‘On the sea’ GUIDELINES

Off the Cornish coast, there is a lot of amazing wildlife to see from large rafts of resting seabirds to curious and engaging seals. Encounters may be distant and fleeting, but this is better for the wellbeing of our marine life, so keep your eyes peeled. If you spot wildlife, tell others with quiet low key signals.

General advice to avoid disturbance ON THE SEA:

  • Be alert and keep a look out for wildlife
  • Use binoculars to get a better view and to avoid the need to get too close
  • Cameras with zooms are recommended, but automatic flashes should be off
  • If you see wildlife, slow down
  • Avoid highly sensitive areas such as breeding sites or large groups of animals and allow them to stay together as you found them
  • Keep watching the wildlife and where appropriate quietly spread the word to others
  • Work out what you think the animals are doing, where they are heading and how they may react to you to help decide how you can avoid disturbing them
  • Make sure your craft’s movements are constant, steady and predictable
  • Stay a good distance away and choose indirect, side on approaches and departures
  • Let the animals decide how close they want to be to you and move away at the first sign of disturbance (see ‘Signs of disturbance’ above)
  • If an animal in the water has chosen to make a close approach and it is safe to do so, consider putting the boat in neutral
  • More crafts, vessels and people will increase the chances of disturbing marine life, so be extra careful. Make sure animals have a wide escape route by not surrounding them or boxing them in on the shoreline
  • If you have them, think about engine / propeller noise and echo sounds – consider sound levels and aim to keep levels constant
  • If you are paddling, sailing or rowing you will need to be aware that a silent approach may startle wildlife more if they wake up and suddenly see you
  • Never follow, chase or feed marine life
  • Avoid damaging the environment by carrying rather than dragging craft to the sea, and take all litter home
  • There are several bodies which regulate the sea, and a suite of both local and national regulations may be used to limit activities and protect important wildlife in some areas. These regulations can include local bylaws (which incur fines) and national legislation (which can attract fines of up to £5000, or six months in prison.) It’s your responsibility to be aware of these.


MAIN PHOTO: copyright Nicola Shanks