The Lizard natural attractions are its wild coastlines and amazing marine life, including our globally rare grey seals. A glimpse of a seal makes a holiday. In Cornwall this summer, disturbance hit record levels with seals at one site being subjected to 10 stampedes caused by walkers in 70 minutes and 13 boat visits in 85 minutes– spooking seals into the sea every seven minutes!
Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust (CSGRT) are members of the Seal Alliance (SA), a UK partnership protecting seals across England, Wales and Scotland. CSGRT’s Katie Bellman and Sue Sayer have written a new SA report ‘Please Do Not Disturb!’ documenting serious incidents at critical sites where seals rest, socialise, pup and moult. Shocking films show the growing harm we’re having. Disturbance is always a waste of energy, sometimes it results in serious injury and occasionally it’s fatal.
At activity hotspots like the Lizard, CSGRT’s amazing volunteer ‘ID Hub’ teams help to monitor the overlap of people and seals, that can result in chronic disturbance by motorised vessels, kayaks, paddle-boarders, wildlife tours, anglers, walkers, dogs, drones, planes, helicopters and photographers.
Seal Alliance (SA) wants legal protection of seal habitats and met with DEFRA to act before it is too late. Most disturbance is unintentional, so a NATIONAL MARINE WILDLIFE CODE OF CONDUCT is urgently needed to raise public awareness. With many complex challenges facing our marine environment, disturbance is unusual – the solution is SIMPLE – we all need to ADMIRE FROM A DISTANCE. CSGRT’s ‘Watch seals well’ guide shows you how!
Published: Nov 2019
Author: Sue Sayer, Director Cornwall Seal Group Research Trust (CSGRT)