Jet-ski riders reported to police after continued disturbance of seals at Pegwell Bay

Disturbance of the seals has been reported to police Photo Russ Miles

Jet-ski riders have been reported to Kent Police after repeatedly disturbing seals at Pegwell Bay.

The colony of seals, who are midway through their pupping season, were rushed into the water after the jet skiers revved their engines and rode at speed near the river mouth where the seals rest.

The ongoing disturbance, which has been taking place over several weeks, has been reported to Kent Police’s Rural Task Force, under Operation Seabird, an initiative aimed at combatting the disturbance of marine wildlife.

Kent Wildlife Trust’s Protected Area Warden, Nina Jones said: “This is not just anti-social behaviour, the actions of the jet ski riders have a significant impact on the welfare of the seals, who are in the process of giving birth and raising their pups.

“The seals rest on the sandbanks at Pegwell Bay but continued disturbance may result in their mothers seeking refuge in the water, preventing her from feeding her pup or potentially abandoning it altogether.

“It’s essential that we give space and share the shore with these protected animals.”

Seals at Pegwell Bay Photo Martyn Smith

Seals can be disturbed easily and what may appear to be normal behaviour, like getting in and out of the sea, can have a significant impact on the marine mammal, causing them to struggle to put on weight or feed their pups. Repeated disturbance may result in injury from stampeding, they may gash their bellies on sharp rocks, tear their skin on sand or rip out their claws.

The upsurge in paddle boarding poses a particular risk to seals as they can approach animals quietly and get too close. Paddlers can help seals by paddling slowly and steadily, not stopping at a seal site, or getting too close.

A rise in the number of boat tour operators offering seal experiences has prompted Kent Wildlife Trust to encourage companies to complete WiSe training a scheme centered around watching marine wildlife in a wildlife-safe way. Operators learn how they can safely conduct tours without significantly impacting wildlife which is especially important for seals.

Nina added: “One of our Wilder Kent 2030 strategy goals is to engage with more people to do more for nature so we can protect 30% of Kent’s land and sea and by working with tour operators, the paddle board community and those enjoying our coastline for recreation we are all helping nature in our county thrive.”

Seals are curious but easily disturbed Photo John Wilson

Kent Police’s Rural Task Force has been working with partner agencies to make jet skiers aware of the impact of such incidents.

Sergeant Darren Walshaw of Kent Police’s Rural Task Force said: “Kent has a stunning shoreline in which protected species of birds and marine mammals thrive. We want everyone to enjoy Kent’s coast whilst ensuring that the natural habitat of these animals is respected.

“The most important thing people can do is keep their distance, from all marine mammals and seabirds. These species are sensitive to disturbance so if you come into contact with them, move away quietly.

“Those using boats or jet skis are asked to travel at a no-wake speed of under 5mph when near the cliffs and if you see groups of birds or colony of seals, slow down and go around them.”

Intentionally or recklessly disturbing wild animals, including marine mammals, is an offence under the Wildlife and Countryside Act.

People can learn more about watching seals safely on Kent Wildlife Trust’s website.

72 Comments

  1. Don’t expect the police to do anything about this criminal behaviour. Too busy noshing doughnuts and coffee in a hidden lay-by.
    They can’t even remove protesters holding up traffic.

    • Whose side are you on, Robert? The petrol heads or the environmental campaigners? Have you figured out why the protesters are holding up traffic in the first place?

      • Yes, we have ‘figured it out’: It’s because they’re arrogant, self- important, middle class wastrels, whose attitude towards decent working folk, many of whom are on fixed hours contracts, morally equates to racism.

        • Congratulations, Putin. You are well on your way to being recruited as a sub-editor for the Daily Mail

          • I’d prefer The Mail On Sunday, as I agree with its policy on ‘remain’. Thanks for the compliment though.

        • Whats racist.. Where did that come into jet skiers disturbing sea life.. I seen the jet skiers disturbing sealife nothing racist.. Your name is though

      • Ian Shacklock, I drive a car powered by petrol and I am not changing that so the Now Stop Oil fanatics can go glue themselves to the nearest policeman for all I care

        • Agreed, Robert. Have a look at what’s just happened in Lancing; a PCSO refused to enter a shop where fighting was happening inside.

          • “a PCSO refused to enter a shop where fighting was happening inside.”

            A PCSO did their duties in lines with their jurisdiction and legal responsibility.

      • After seeing police auditing videos on you tube, i think were doomed for ever~

        Police should consider art therapy

        • “After seeing police auditing videos on you tube”

          Tell me you love far right adjacent agitative propaganda without telling me.

  2. People go on about electric scooters but jetski riders should have licences to be able to ride them after passing a basic competency test. Should have registration plates too so people can track who is riding them from a distance.

    • The Thanet PWG code says just that.
      But there’s noth8ng to stop unlicenced and uninsured skiers launching elsewhere up the coast (ot even from the Main Sands last week)

    • They do. Then revoke them. Plus they have rules of the sea which they do not follow because its beneath them.

  3. No good asking the police to do anything, especially the rural police, had troubles up the river with people breaking Into the boat’s, even got pictures of the arseoles doing it last year and we’re still waiting

  4. Jetski riders are a danger to swimmers and other sea users- not just to seals. I and other swimmers who swim regularly, at least in summer, from Ramsgate beaches have been trying for years to get TDC to make things safer for us. The best thing would be to ban jetski use totally along the Thanet coast at least. There needs to be a physical barrier out at sea to stop jetskis from coming inland.

    Perhaps this will finally happen, now that it’s clear that animals are also at risk.

    • ” There needs to be a physical barrier out at sea to stop jetskis from coming inland.”

      I’m sure you won’t mind your council tax bills going up a few points given this would cost tens of millions.

  5. Yuo would think with the money a jet ski costs and to run them the riders would stay away from close in to coast especially where the seals are as its very easy to damage either propeller or underside of ski, and let’s face it there is a lot more water further away from coast but no they do as near to the coast line as possible to pose, look what I have I can do and annoy the seals and not get caught,if any do get caught annoying the seals or riding dangerously around people they should have there skis impounded until they take an awareness course on how to drive in a safe & proper way around animals and people.

  6. these twats are fully aware of what they are doing , and doing it because they know nothing will be done about it – ditto the graffiti that covers thanet

  7. The anti fossil fuel protestors recognise when ‘life goes on’ as normal, nothing changes. Getting people angry creates political pressure that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Climate change threatens us all, especially our children. Just because that threat is big and abstract does not mean it isn’t very real and could wipe out all life on planet Earth. Being annoyed for being delayed is a small price to pay if mass extinction is to be avoided. There have been at least 5 mass extinction events that we know of during the evolution of life on Earth. We will be both cause and part of the 6th. If we don’t act immediately and radically then we’ll be joining the dinosaurs in oblivion. As for disturbing seals and other wildlife, it should be made a criminal offence. All our arrogant, unthinking, uncaring and selfish actions are contributing to an alarming environmental decline that threatens the environment that is our very own life-support system. We are part of nature not above it. As we destroy it so we are destroying our own future and that of our children.

  8. Many areas of thanet including coastal have public space protection orders in place. Maybe a meno to those that enforce pspo’s is needed just to remind them !

    Save our Seals

  9. On Sunday I called Coastguard as an unmanned jetski was drifting towards the Ramsgate port wall from off the Western Undercliffe – but no action.
    Then 3 people on a kayak got out to the drifting PWC, one boarded and proceeded to motor around like a mad thing. Called Coastguard to cancel previous call.
    Jetski was driven onto the beach where the “no PWC” signed slipway is, signs gone now!
    Jetskis are required to keep at least 300m from beaches. If there’s no enforcement the only change will be exacerbation of the current threats to life, human that is.
    Aside from life threats we also have the noise, stink of fuel and general unease when these motor-heads speed around swimmers.
    The police have a duty to prevent crime but they aren’t in this case.
    Citizens have a right to self-defense, is this where we’re at?

    • I don’t know how a swimmer can defend himself/herself from a fast- approaching jetski. When I’m swimming, if I hear a jetski – and they’re bloody noisy- I do indeed feel uneasy, and the pleasure of swimming turns into anxiety. Other swimmers I know are also very concerned with their safety now that jetskis have become regular -but hardly popular or welcome- items near our beaches.

      • I understand how it feels. I don’t know how we can defend ourselves from harm in practice, perhaps prevent jetskis launching from unlawful areas (like WU slipway), maybe citizen signage on the port wall and concrete groins, maybe a jetski watch group who could photograph poor behaviour on water and then the vehicle registrations the jetski is loaded onto.
        We’d need a group of people, we’d only have to operate weekends and bank hols mostly. All details then sent to the Kent Police, Coastguard and TDC enforcement with a record kept to track trends and repeat offenders.
        Maybe Boarder Force could use jetski control as form of training.

  10. Perhaps there could be a rapid-response Beach Inspector equipped with a jet-ski, so they could actively respond to this type of activity.

  11. Morons ban jet skis from all beaches pollution danger to humans and wildlife we do not need these pollution sea motor bikes ban them who they idiots would actually scare and disturb seals and cause danger and stress no brains

    • Instead of constantly arguing like it’s twitter. Why don’t you guys n gals do something actually proactive? I know a lot of you have a massive ego so that probably won’t happen. You feel as you are above everyone. If you don’t like how the world is running. Actually do something about it instead of yapping.

      • One thing about “yapping” is to test views and feeling.
        Quite a few people do do something.
        Question is who’s up for it?
        Kent Police say it’s a TDC matter. I’ve asked them if this means they have no jurisdiction in Kent’s territorial waters – no response yet.
        If the enforcement agencies can’t or won’t take action what can we do, within the law?
        A WUAB jetski watch group is one idea, video bad behaviour, the people involved and their cars/vans and number plates. Send to Police, Coastguard and TDC.
        Use this to build a local campaign for sea safety for all.
        Who’s interested?
        If Jesus is then water walking would be very useful.

  12. Quite a few jet skis launch from sandwich marinas slip way . I’ve watched a few idiot’s. Some abide by the river rules and so don’t. Once they pass the boat areas the loonys just let rip

  13. Here’s the answer. Ban jet skis where they might impact on wildlife. That is to say, introduce a bill and make it law. Lobby your MP on the issue and make them do their job.
    Then sack any policemen who fail to enforce the new law.

  14. I’ve just found that laws were enacted on 31st March 2023 that bring jetskis and other powered water craft into maritime regulation. This link takes you to the new legal duties.
    So, there are laws prohibiting jetskis from dangerous behaviour on all UK waters, inland and within the 12 mile sea limits.
    file:///D:/Warning%20for%20powered%20watercraft%20users%20as%20new%20legislation%20comes%20into%20force%20-%20GOV.UK.htm

    email – [email protected] to report details recorded about behaviour.

  15. No. The disturbance of seals is only part of the issue. Humans need to be sure that they are safe while swimming.

  16. Ffs… the subject of the article on here concerns disturbance of the seals around Pegwell Bay. It is entirely the issue.
    The article makes no reference to swimmers. I am concerned about the effects upon the seals and do not give a bugger about swimmers.

    • You can only speak for yourself, as do I. What “most other people” think is for them alone. Seals remain my priority for the simple reason they are vulnerable to human behaviour. You can take a swim.

      • Humans can swim, but not as fast as jetskis can move through the water.

        I think Robert Edward’s attitude towards human swimmers is disgusting, and I expect most people reading these comments will think so too..

  17. You are one of those people who can not tolerate an opposing view. “Disgusting” is an inappropriate response.
    I don’t give a fig for swimmers but I care about seals and their habitat. In fact, I prefer animals to humans. So you know where you stand with me.

  18. It is an expression of indifference … neither here nor there. Seals are far more important than you. “Disgusting” is an exaggeration and merely reflects your egotistical sense of importance.

  19. No, disgusting is not an exaggeration. Anyone who does not care about the safety of swimmers is a very unpleasant person

    • MM Rees And Robert Edwards both humans and seals are important but for one big difference seals cannot speak the English language, that is why the seals take presidence here, most have given birth and are suckling their young, now a mum is not going to leave there baby unless there is danger and to seals a jetski is as dangerous and noisy as you can get near to the rocks in real life nether seals nor humans are less valuable than the other but seals don’t go getting on a jet ski and frightening swimmers no it’s humans it’s 99.9% of the time humans who cause trouble to other people and animals we are the most destructive species in the world, yes swimmer’s need protecting but this story is about seals that are being so frightened they may abandon there pups they need us to speak up against the idiots who think it’s OK to ride there jet skis around as if they are riding a motor bike at 100+ mph on the country roads or the freedom of the motorway it has to be stopped jetski are supposed to be 300 yards from shore line / beaches and especially not worrying any sea creatures the worrying of the seals can cause catastrophic injuries to them especially on the rocks as they can so easily rip open there underbelly on the rocks especially jagged rocks, at this moment we have to prioritise the safety of the seals once that is sorted the swimming will automatically be safer as jet
      Skiers will know they are being watched so unless they are completely stupid they won’t get to close. We need to report all jetsking which is annoying or getting to close to seals swimmer’s or anything seen or you believe to be dangerous if there is 4 of you seeing it all report it the more who reported it the quicker the response from authorities take photos registration of cars any sort of markings onjetski what clothes they are wearing colour etc any small detail will show them you are serious about it.

  20. Prioritize the safety of the seals? I don’t think so. I think humans and animals need to be treated as equal in this matter. What you are saying sounds as if you’d rather save seals than people.

    • M M Rees, you are a hypocrite. Previously you wanted priority given to your beloved swimmers over that of seals.
      I say, again, the fate of our seals around Pegwell Bay is far more important.
      Go find a swimming pool somewhere and leave the sea to the natural world.

      • “I am far more concerned about swimmers than seals” is true, but that doesn’t mean that I think it’s all right for jetskis to be be driven close to seals.

        I only swim in the sea, I don’t go to swimming pools.

      • Robert Edwards, when you’ve finished splitting hairs over whether humans or wildlife are the most at risk, can you please give ONE good reason why a jet-ski needs to be within a mile of our coastline? (Excluding ones used by responsible workers on duty)

        • Ian Shackleton, I am opposed to jetskis and would ban them. Equally, I would ban quadbikes used for entertainment or leisure activities. I have seen the harm they do to wildlife on the land.
          My argument on here concerns the welfare of the seals around Pegwell Bay. The rule here should be no human activity anywhere near them … including by swimmers.

  21. Iv’e found some more on this. TDC have existing powers to control jetskis, their speed, where they can go, require registration, a number plate, insurance and even payment for using the coastal waters.
    The point, however, is that whatever TDC do they have to enforce it and that is the problem.
    As I said before, people need to observe, record and report poor behaviour towards swimmers, seals, birds, etc by any motor craft on the water.
    For those who actually want to do something this is what you can do.
    I’m going to post something about this on We Love Ramsgate facebook.

Comments are closed.