Other threats to the dolphins
There are many threats facing these vulnerable animals and they all add up. These are just two of the dangers they face – for more information please download our factsheet.
Tourism is expected to increase in Scotland in coming years. This is a positive thing – if it is done with protection of the marine environment at its heart.
As Scotland moves towards its target to increase tourism revenue by 50 % by 2015, the Moray Firth is under going a transformation. This includes expansion and development of harbours and marinas and increases in numbers of recreational, racing and commercial boats. Unregulated increases in recreational boat traffic and poorly co-ordinated inshore developments will lead to increases of boat users in the dolphins important habitats.
WDCS has been instrumental in setting up and operating of the Dolphin Space Programme (DSP) to ensure that the dolphin watching boats in the Moray Firth abide by a code of conduct that is set out to protect the dolphins. WDCS are working towards educating all other boat users who need to be aware of the dolphins presence and their vulnerability.
Evaluation of how such development can be undertaken whilst ensuring compliance with environmental legislation is now required. The solution is co-ordinated planning of all marine activities and real long-term consideration for the dolphins’ requirements.
Recent work undertaken by the Institute of Zoology in London on stranded animals has shown alarmingly high levels of contamination in the UK’s bottlenose dolphins.
Among the most common pollutants are polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), which are persistent and toxic. Such high levels of contamination can cause serious health consequences, including suppression of immune and reproductive function.
The long-term records of whale and dolphin strandings in the UK show a declining bottlenose dolphin population and a contraction of their range. It is likely that chemical pollution has been and remains a major factor in their decline.
Whilst PCBs are now slowly declining in the north-east Atlantic, they remain an important threat and conservation plans need to take into account their effects.