Cetacean Watching- General advice

Spotting dolphins, whales and porpoises at sea can be an exciting experience but it is important to understand that our behaviour towards these animals, although may seem harmless, can be a very distressing experience for them.

All species of cetaceans in UK waters are protected by law. It is illegal to capture, injure, kill or intentionally or recklessly disturb a cetacean.

Boat users, both professional and recreational, can avoid breaking the law by adhering to the following advice and local marine codes.

  • Keep your distance. Remain 100m away (200m if another boat is in the area).
  • Never drive head on to, or move between, scatter or separate dolphins. If unsure of their movements, simply stop and put the engine into neutral.
  • Never chase, drive directly towards or encircle them. Always allow an escape route.
  • Let them approach you. On many occasions dolphins will bow-ride your boat, make sure you maintain a steady speed and course.
  • Take extra special care when around young animals. The smallest disturbance risks disrupting mother-calf bonds and may expose inexperienced young to stress and possible boat strikes.
  • Move away slowly if you notice any signs of disturbance or avoidance behaviours.

Please remember, not only do boats pose a threat of injury to the animal from collisions or propeller strikes. The noise produced by engines can disrupt their daily behaviours including their ability to communicate with each other which is essential when navigating underwater.

We do not wish to restrict your enjoyment of these animals, we just ask that you are mindful of your actions whilst you are out at sea. The less we disturb these animals as they visit harbours and areas with high human activity the more likely it is they will return for us to enjoy in the future.

For more information on marine codes for cetaceans or other marine wildlife please check your local marine code.

For Pembrokeshire click here: https://www.pembrokeshiremarinecode.org.uk/