|Dolphin trip boat at Newquay with Bottlenose dolphin (CB)|
This week Sea Watch Foundation are mounting a publicity campaign, taken up this morning by the BBC, blaming local tourism boats for a decline in the number of Bottlenose dolphins in Cardigan Bay. Even though they use and are sponsored by local tourist boats!
Ironically in Newquay, SWF use tourist boats to get photographs of the dolphins and at the same time are warning that they think tourist boats are scaring the dolphins away! In 2010 in their much publicised “Photo a Fin” campaign, they went on TV and Radio, encouraging members of the public to go out and get photographs of Dolphins and send them into them. This work should be done under licence by trained photographers, SWF were actually encouraging the public to break the law!
At least the tourist boats are bound by a code of conduct, private boaters usually do not have any idea of how to avoid disturbance.
Cliff Benson of Sea Trust thinks they don’t really understand the true facts of what is happening in Cardigan Bay.
Claims from Sea Watch Foundation that tourist boats, may be driving away Bottlenose Dolphins from Cardigan Bay ignores another much more significant factor. In the past few years during the winter months, there has been a massive increase in disturbance in Cardigan Bay from scallop fishing boats constantly ploughing up the seabed of Cardigan Bay. This goes on all winter from October until the end of April. It seems far more likely that disturbance caused on an industrial scale by the arrival of up to seventy scallop fishing boats every winter might drive the dolphins out of Cardigan Bay. These boats work night and day even in quite rough weather. Apart from the physical disturbance caused by towing heavy steel dredges over the seabed there is a cacophony of electronic sound with each boat bombarding the underwater environment with depth sounders and sonar. Surely this must effect the dolphins far more than a handful of tourist boats operating in the summer months.
Milton Keynes based Sea Watch Foundation , arrive in New Quay, Cardigan Bay during the summer months along with the tourists, just as the scallop dredgers are moving out of the area. They really do not have the year round view local groups such as Sea Trust, Friends of Cardigan Bay and Cardigan Bay Marine Wildlife Group have. Every year since 2007, between November and the end of April, Cardigan Bay is invaded by scallop fishing boats from the south of England and Scotland where many have been displaced by the English and Scottish authorities concerns for the ecological damage they have done there in the past. Incredibly they are still allowed to plough up the seabed here in Wales!