Dolphins 'harassed' on River Tyne

Nature lovers were left horrified as they watched a group of jetskiers apparently speed towards a pod of dolphins playing in the mouthof the Tyne.

Northumbria Police is investigating reports of people on jet skis"harassing" dolphins near North Shields Fish Quay, just after 8pm onThursday.

The incident was captured on video by a witness who claimed threepeople on jet skis had appeared to turn intentionally in the directionof the marine mammals.

She said: "This was truly shocking to watch and appeared a deliberateact as the pod was very obvious.

"They steered towards the dolphins and went straight for them wherethe last dolphin had only breeched seconds before. This was appallingbehaviour and so so upsetting."

A second woman said she had seen the incident while watching thedolphins with her daughter.

She said: "I had to stop video as my little girl was so upset shescreamed 'they are going to hit the babies', as the dolphins had theircalves."

Dolphin expert Dr Ivor Clark, who runs Newbiggin by the Sea DolphinWatch, said the footage had left him "very very angry".

"Generally dolphins are good at avoiding vessels, the problem with jetskis is their manoeuvrability, they can turn very very quickly andeven with their capabilities dolphins can't always move quickly enoughto get out of the way," he said.

"I could foresee this happening simply because we have so manydolphins here now, and when you combine that with the fact that theyare coming closer and closer to shore, there is a risk. Dolphins havelong memories and, at the end of the day, it's negative human activitythat will drive them away.

"This probably isn't going to go away and it will potentially getworse until the authorities clamp down on it."

Northumbria Police said the force is investigating "any possiblecriminal activity including potential speeding laws being broken orwildlife laws" as a result of the incident.

Acting Marine Sergeant Paul Spedding added: “Everyone has aresponsibility to protect our wildlife and anyone found to be inbreach of any laws will be prosecuted.

“It is illegal to harass, feed, chase and touch Marine mammals in thewild and we’re urging all water users to be vigilant and respectful.“If dolphins do approach you then maintain a slow, steady speed andrefrain from turning back towards them.

“Keep your distance and never get closer than 100m and if you’reunsure of their direction then simply stop and put the engine inneutral.

“Human interaction can have devastating effects on wildlife so we arereminding the public to enjoy from a safe and respectful distance soothers can enjoy them too.”