Aberdeen Harbour’s Dolphin Code
In 2015 a joint taskforce launched a Code of Practice, designed to protect Bottlenose dolphins near Aberdeen’s Harbour mouth, and provide guidance to vessels operating in the port
The code was developed by a joint taskforce who came together as a result of increased interest in the dolphins at the time. The group included: Aberdeen Harbour Board, East Grampian Coastal Partnership, Police Scotland and Scottish Natural Heritage; with expert advice from the University of Aberdeen, RSPB, the Sea Mammal Research Unit and Whale and Dolphin Conservation.
Today Aberdeen is still one of the best places in the UK to view dolphins, with RSPB’s Dolphin Watch Project reporting that visitors to Torry Battery have a nine in ten chance of seeing the animals feeding near the city’s Harbour, and so the Code is as important as ever.
The guidance suggests boats maintain a steady course at the slowest possible speed, stay away from the breakwaters, avoid directly approaching the animals, avoid turning engines on and off, and never feed, touch or swim with the dolphins.
Aberdeen Harbour Board said, “We are very proud of the incredible diversity of wildlife in the Harbour. As stewards of this important habitat, we have a clear duty to treat its inhabitants with care and encourage other port users to do the same. The Dolphin Code will ensure everyone is made aware of best practices and keep the animals safe.”
Police Scotland added, “Dolphins are protected by law and disturbing them is a crime, but it is sometimes difficult for small boat crews to tell whether their operations are having an impact. The code explains how they can avoid accidently committing an offence and ensures dolphins are able to search for prey with minimal disturbance.”
Aberdeen Harbour is visited by a range of marine wildlife, including bottlenose, white beaked and risso dolphins, porpoises, minke whale and basking sharks. It is believed that although primarily aimed at dolphins, the guidelines will benefit all of such wildlife visiting the harbour.
Aberdeen Harbour Board would encourage anyone witnessing a suspected crime to contact police Scotland on 101.