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Wildlife Needs Consideration 24 August 2004

Please be considerate to wildlife at sea. That's the message from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry this week following reports of disturbance to seal haul-outs in The Sound. The Sound has the main seal aggregation in the Island.

People enjoy their encounters with marine wildlife and generally take a responsible attitude when approaching wildlife at sea. Unfortunately, a small number are not so considerate.

Seals normally experience little disturbance on their rocky haul-outs and pupping sites. However, boats and jet-skis passing too close and at speed cause alarm to seals, disturbing them from their rocks.

The Departmentís Wildlife and Conservation Office asks boat and jet-ski owners not to drive directly at seal haul-outs and pupping sites. In their vicinity, speed should be kept low to minimise noise and wave-wash.

Basking sharks are also fascinating marine creatures. However, please don't drive directly at them or chase them, circle round them or surround them.

The best way to see them is to approach slowly from the side or rear and stop at a safe distance to allow them to approach you. Basking sharks may follow behind a boat. This is not threatening - they are just feeding in the wake of the propellor. Basking sharks, turtles and all species of seals are protected under the Island's Wildlife Act 1990. The Act also protects all whales, dolphins and porpoises. None of these species should be disturbed in their places of shelter or protection. To do so is, in fact, an offence under the Act.

The Isle of Man is fortunate in having such interesting marine species. Our interest and enjoyment also brings a responsibility to take care of them. Disturbance may drive them away and be lost to the Island.

Please respect our marine wildlife so that we can continue to enjoy their company as part of the Island's rich natural heritage.

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