A speedboat owner who ‘corralled’ a pod of dolphins has been convicted in what is thought to be the first prosecution under a new clampdown in wildlife disturbances. Witnesses saw Christopher Barker, 45, intentionally circling the cetaceans off the coast of Scarborough, North Yorkshire, at excessive speed, causing the animals to split up.
One witness described Barker’s actions as ‘corralling’ and on-lookers were left shocked and distressed, police said. This involved circling them to split them up.
Barker, from Brompton-by-Sawdon, North Yorks,, was charged with intentionally or recklessly disturbing a dolphin under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981. He pleaded guilty and was fined £200 in what police said was the first case to come as a result of the national effort to protect wildlife at sea.
In his defence, he said he had only owned the boat for a month and was unaware of dolphin’s protected status. District Judge Adrian Lower said it was the first case of its kind heard by the court and he was sure the Barker had no idea his actions would “amount to a criminal offence”.
But North Yorkshire Police said dolphin sightings off the coast had increased in recent years, which had lead to a spike in human interference. The force said it was committed to protecting the region’s ‘diverse’ wildlife and urged boat owners to respect marine animals.
Lead Image: Christopher Barker intentionally circling the pod of dolphins in hi speedboat in Scarborough at excessive speed – causing the animals to split up. (Image: North Yorkshire Police / SWNS).
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