Footage captured by Ros Green shows jet skiers ploughing through seabird colonies in a wildlife reserve off the north Wales coast
Five people were filmed “causing havoc” as they skimmed over the sea off Puffin Island, Anglesey.
The video was captured on Sunday by Bangor University researchers carrying out monitoring work on the island, which can only be accessed under permit.
Ros Green, a PhD ecology student, condemned the five jet ski riders and said more must be done to educate users about sensitive wildlife areas.
At least one adult guillemot was later found dead in the water.
Had the jet ski group done the same thing two months later, when seabird chicks are fledging and can barely fly, “hundreds” of young birds may have been killed, Ros said.
“It is incredibly rare for adult seabirds to die during the breeding season, so this jet ski death is very unusual,” she said.
Anglesey Council warned it would take a zero-tolerance approach to deliberate wildlife disturbance in what is an EU Special Protection Area.
When the video was shared on Twitter, it prompted an angry response from bird and wildlife lovers.
“These are spoilt brats playing with their toys and causing environmental damage whilst they’re about it,” said one person.
Another said: “Appalling behaviour from total idiots who have no regards for anything other than themselves. Soon the waters will be full of young birds, this needs stopping now.”
Concerns over jet skiers first surfaced last year during the staycation boom and were focused on Puffin Island and South Stack - homes to seabirds such as guillemots, razorbills and puffins.
A group of six jet skiers were also reported to have scared wildlife along the River Conwy.
Over the weekend, complaints of irresponsible jet ski use also emerged in Conwy harbour and along the north Wales coast at Llanfairfechan.
“Sailing on the Conwy....was unpleasant and at times borderline dangerous,” was one comment.
It has prompted calls for stricter licensing and policing of the activity, with heftier fines for those found guilty. Others demanded a jet ski exclusion zone around Anglesey.
“They’re destroying the peace and wildlife of Ynys Môn. Action is needed quickly before the summer season fully gets underway,” said one local.
Anglesey Council today repeated its plea for personal watercraft (PWC) users to respect wildlife and follow the Anglesey Marine Code. The council operates a powerboat and jet-ski registration scheme and last year larger identification stickers were introduced for jet-skis, RIBs and powerboats.
Christian Branch, Anglesey’s head of regulation and economic services, said the Marine Code asks PWC users to keep a proper distance from sensitive wildlife areas.
He said: “There has been a large increase in jet-ski numbers due to staycations.
"It is important that users understand and respect the sea – and the importance of not disturbing wildlife on our shores. There are several important nesting bird colonies on Anglesey together with seals, dolphins and porpoises regularly seen around the coastline.”
Anglesey's Maritime Officers are authorised to withdraw launching and mooring permits from vessels. Mr Branch said any activity involving the deliberate or reckless disturbance of a protected species is a criminal offence and “won’t be tolerated”.
He added: “We know that the majority of those who use our coastal waters for recreational purposes are responsible – but there are, unfortunately, some who are not. Anglesey’s Maritime Team is working closely with jet-ski groups such as PWC Gwynedd/Anglesey – but it is extremely difficult to police and enforce irresponsible behaviour everywhere and all the time.”
RSPB Cymru warned irresponsible jet ski use can have “grave consequences” for marine wildlife.
Ros Green said that, from year to year, most seabirds have at least a 94% chance of surviving, and can often live for more than 30 years.
“Killing a bird that could be 35-plus year-old is tragic,” she said.
Rather than “shaming” jet ski users, she wants a greater focus on education to ensure visitors are made aware of environmental sensitivities so that illicit activities are not repeated.
This is the approach currently being adopted by the NWP rural crime team, which last month launched the multi-agency Operation Seabird campaign against marine disturbance.
For recreational users, Operation Seabird has the following advice:
Keep your distance: Keep a safe distance (at least 100 metres) from cliffs, rafting seabirds and marine mammals, allowing space for animals to move away from you.
No-wake speed: Motorised vessels and personal watercraft should travel at a no-wake speed within 300 metres of the cliffs or shore.
Avoid enclosed spaces: A All motorised and non-motorised vessels should avoid entering caves and travelling through archways where breeding seabirds or resting seals are present.
Be aware: If an animal’s behaviour changes in response to your presence, move away quickly and quietly.
Members of the public can report any irresponsible behaviour to firstname.lastname@example.org.