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Wildlife Code of Conduct

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The wildlife code of conduct "Give Wildlife a Chance" has been designed to raise awareness of the wildlife in and around Guernsey and Herm. Please follow these guidelines to enjoy observing seabirds and marine wildlife without causing unnecessary stress or disturbance.

  • What is disturbance?

    • 'Disturbance' regarding wildlife is the result of a direct or indirect interaction with people, that changes the behaviour of that animal, or changes the environment, which in turn can affect the well-being or survival of the animal in the short, medium or long term.
    • Disturbances might include:
      • Direct injury
      • Disruption of feeding habits, resting, breeding, nursing, migration and communication
      • Excessive use of energy resulting in loss of condition caused by continual or repeated avoidance or flight
      • Increased vulnerability of an individual or a population to predators or physical stress
      • Damage to habitat
    • How do I know if I'm too close?
    • Wildlife will give different signals to indicate they are distressed and to let you know you're too close. By being aware of these different signals we can enjoy watching wildlife while they get on with life. If you see any of the below behaviours you are probably too close for comfort. Please slowly and gently move away from the area.
    • Signs that you are getting too close to birds and they're preparing to fly away include:
      • Head turning and head bobbing
      • Fidgeting, shuffling and wing flapping in situ
      • Walking / swimming in the opposite direction
      • Swooping or dive bombing observers
      • Making loud calling noises
    • Signs that seals are being disturbed and may be getting ready to stampede from their haul out or quickly dive under the water include:
      • Raising their heads and looking at you
      • Fidgeting, shuffling or moving away
      • Hissing or snarling
    • Dolphins and whales may show they're being disturbed by:
      • Slapping their tails or heads
      • Changing their swimming pattern of diving and surfacing
      • Quickly swimming away or changing direction
  • Code of conduct for watching marine wildlife

      • Use binoculars to get the best views
      • On sighting animals, vessels should slow down to a speed no greater than five knots (or no wake speed) and maintain a minimum distance of 100m from marine mammals. If dolphins or seals approach you, be sure to maintain a steady course and speed
      • Keep observation time to a minimum. If there are signs of disturbance, move away immediately, slowly and quietly
      • A maximum of three vessels should observe marine animals at any one time to avoid overcrowding
      • Give marine animals an escape route so they can leave the area if they wish. Boats, kayaks or other vessels should only occupy a maximum of 25% of the animals escape route
      • Do not attempt to swim with, feed or touch any animals
      • Never pursue or harass the marine wildlife
  • Code of conduct for watching seabirds

      • Keep noise to a minimum
      • Keep 100m between you and breeding colonies, roosts, rafts of birds resting at sea, nests and feeding sites
      • If you have a dog with you, keep it on a lead or under close control so it won't alarm the birds
      • Don't make any sudden or sharp movements
      • View the birds through binoculars if you have them
      • Please respect signs and do not enter restricted areas


Give Wildlife a Chance

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