A wildlife group has reported a spike in dolphin disturbances as more people take to the water.
Watersports and boating have rocketed in popularity during the pandemic, which has previously caused concerns about the impact on local wildlife, such as nesting birds.
Paddleboarders have already been banned from Loch Kinord, near Aboyne, during breeding season.
Now the charity Whale and Dolphin Conservation (WDC) have said there has been a worrying number of instances of dolphins being approached and hassled.
Several incidents have been recorded in the Moray Firth, near Chanonry Point, as well as Aberdeen and Ullapool.
The Chanonry Narrows is a dolphin feeding ground. Although the WDC believe many people may not realise the mammals are there, they say there has been incidences of people intentionally chasing and harassing them on boats and jet skis – potentially scaring them away from their food sources.
‘Dramatic uptake in water sport activities’
The Moray Firth is a popular sightseeing spot for those looking to see dolphins as there is a healthy population in the calmer waters.
WDC policy officer Katie Dyke said: “Over the last year there has been a dramatic uptake in water sport activities. Locally we have seen so many more people in or on the water enjoying things like wild swimming and SUPing.
“Our waters are also home to a variety of wildlife, sadly we have seen a dramatic increase in disturbance caused to wildlife with people getting too close and upsetting their natural behaviours.
“Once quiet areas where dolphins and other wildlife hang out to feed and play are now also being used by both jet skies and motor boats, which can have harmful effects on the creatures using the area. Slowing down, not approaching wildlife and allowing them to continue their behaviour is important.
“There are many tour boat operators that can take you on the water to see whales and dolphins in their natural environment, but it is important that you choose your operator wisely and make sure they too behave well around wildlife and don’t stay with the creatures too long or interfere with natural behaviours.”