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Wildlife

Central to our enjoyment of boating is being out in the fresh air and amongst the elements - taking in the beautiful scenery or catching a glimpse of the varied and wonderful wildlife that our rich waters provide. However it is important to minimise the risk of disturbance.

 

It is worth noting the legislation that protects wildlife in the UK. This includes the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and Habitats Regulations. These list protected species, including most of the marine wildlife species you will see around the UK. Offences might be summarised as intentionally (or, in Scotland, recklessly) killing, injuring or taking a protected species, without a lawful excuse; and intentionally or recklessly destroying, damaging or obstructing a protected species’ place of shelter or protection, or disturbing a protected species while within it, without a lawful excuse.

 

All types of craft have the potential to cause disturbance if handled without care. So it is vitally important that we know what to look out for and how to act when we encounter wildlife.

 

Disturbance can be caused by noise, wash or by just being too close. Disturbance simply means affecting the way in which animals would normally behave and having a detrimental effect on their breeding, feeding, resting and numbers.

For example, a flock of seabirds rafting up to rest at sea may take off as they are disturbed by a passing boat. This may not seem like too much of a problem, but if repeated as boat after boat goes by, then the important resting period would be constantly disturbed. This would lead to increased energy consumption, stress and the need for more food.

 

Another example of disturbance is excess wash that can cause bank erosion and the loss of habitats.