Protecting Cornwall’s marine life
With five million people flocking to Cornwall on holiday each year, the county’s marine life is under pressure as more and more people come into contact with wildlife through coastal activities, from sea safaris and snorkelling to rockpooling — even walking along the coast path can have an impact. Cornwall’s Marine and Coastal Code Group has created a set of visitor guidelines to help protect Cornwall’s marine life, including how to observe wildlife safely, how to avoid disturbing wildlife on the coast and how to report any disturbance or harassment they might see.
Whether you’re spending time by the coast, out on the sea on a kayak or submerged in it on a diving trip, the Cornwall Marine and Coastal Code Group‘s guidelines will help you to know what to do if you encounter wildlife, particularly species you haven’t come into contact with before. Follow these simple guidelines to help you make the most of your wildlife encounters in Cornwall.
Learn — Find out as much as you can about what wildlife you might see and the best way to interact
See — Make sure you’re alert whilst out and about
Respect — Act appropriately and aim to leave wildlife as you found it
Report — Report any sightings or disturbance you see
Give animals SPACE and TIME
Try to watch wildlife unseen — use binoculars to avoid the need to get too close, and never follow, chase, feed or touch wild animals. If you’re with dogs, keep the lead handy and make sure they’re kept under control at all times.
- Look for signs you’ve been spotted by wildlife and avoid actions that scare, startle or panic them
- Avoid large groups and mothers with young
- If you decide to move closer, approach side on, around the outside making sure the animals have a clear escape route
- Leave wildlife and the environment as you found it
Out and about
Whether you’re exploring rockpools with children, watching seabirds nurturing their chicks on the coast or are diving beneath the waves, it’s important to know how to interact with any wildlife you come across. If you’re on the coast path, be very careful where you are putting your feet to avoid crushing burrows or eggs, and avoid trampling on vegetation. If you’re out on the water, make sure your craft’s movements are constant, steady and predictable. Put your boat in neutral if an animal gets close. Think about engine/propeller noise and echo sounds and carry rather than drag craft to the sea.
If you’re in the water, whether you’re swimming, snorkelling or diving, chances are you’ll come into contact with wildlife at some point. Take care with your feet or fins as some species are very sensitive to physical damage and keep good control of your buoyancy if diving or snorkelling to avoid touching the seabed or smothering it in clouds of sand or mud.