Coastal visitors urged to respect the wildlife after seals spotted being harassed

Visitors to the coast are being urged to observe wildlife from a distance and respect the animals.

Friday, 20th August 2021, 10:00 am
Visitors to the coast are being urged to respect the wildlife and keep their distance, especially from seals at St Mary's Island near Whitley Bay.

The latest message comes after Northumbria Police received reports of seals being harassed at St Mary’s island, near Whitley Bay.

At around 7pm on August 3, onlookers saw groups of people approaching the seals within very close proximity.

The seals were seen to be visibly distressed with some frantically trying to get away.

The Force’s Marine Unit were contacted by concerned members of the public and have been sent video footage of the incident.

Officers were able to view footage and photographs of the incident and while they are satisfied the incident was not malicious, are keen to educate the public about how to behave around them.

Constable Paul Cullen, from Northumbria Police’s Marine Unit, said: “It is understandable that visitors want to capture the magnificent wildlife our area has to offer on camera.

“However, this should not be to the detriment of the animal’s welfare.

"The area at St Mary’s lighthouse is a sanctuary for wildlife and visitors should respect that.

“If you want to see the seals you should be keeping your distance and not approach any closer than 100 metres to them.

“It’s worth mentioning the majority of people observe the seals and behave in a considerate manner but getting to close could frighten them away.”

Constable Cullen added: “Remember it is illegal to harass, feed, chase and touch marine mammals in the wild and you can be prosecuted for these offences.

“We really appreciate the passion people have in protecting wildlife and I encourage all members of the public to carry on doing so and helping us investigate marine crime.”

It comes just weeks after Northumbria Police’s Marine Unit were contacted by concerned residents after dolphins swimming just off the coast of Blyth were approached a group of people on jet-skis who nearly collided with the mammals.

Members of the public are also encouraged to take videos and photographs if they see any activity taking place and share it with the police.

If you see inappropriate behaviour, please report it to the police’s Marine Unit by using the Tell us Something page on their website.