I have been away for a few days, but was pleased to return to the UK to find that a UK court had convicted two men for harrassing a dolphin.
The convictions last week in Kent related to ‘reckless disturbance’ (as prescribed in the amended Willdlife and Countryside Act) and followed another case a few months ago in a court in Banff where a man was also convicted (in this case under Scottish law) of recklessly disturbing dolphins.
So what is astounding is that some UK newspapers seem to have taken the position of the men involved in defending their right to be drunk and get in the water with a protected species! Maybe thats not what the newspapers actually meant but having read the articles several times, it does appear that the papers are putting the interests of people to exloit dolphins before their need for protection.
Dave, the dolphin in Kent, was a small, almost certainly juvenile and solitary bottlenose dolphin. This species is rare in the southeast and these solitary dolphins are particularly vulnerable as they often live in a relatively small, easily accessible and busy inshore area. That people want to interact with them is perhaps understandable, but dolphins are protected by law for a reason. Studies show that, not only can people disturb their feeding and resting patterns but also that those dolphins that become habituated to people are significant risk of being either deliberately or accidentally harmed.
Of the four solitary dolphins in UK waters since 2006, two are now dead and the other two, including Dave, are missing . Dave was badly wounded before she went missing and we fear that she too is now dead. Dave’s story, including her injury, was similar to that of many other solitary dolphins and illustrates how much they need care and protection.