The dramatic and rugged coastline of North East Yorkshire has for decades been the home to hundreds of thousands of nesting birds, choosing the chalk cliffs at Flamborough and Bempton as their summer breeding destination.
On these 100 feet high sheer chalk cliffs, fulmars, gannets, herring gulls, kittiwakes, guillemots, razorbills and puffins lay eggs and raise their young between March and September, each year.
Flamborough and Bempton are rare and precious places not only for birds but increasingly we are seeing dolphins offshore as well as growing seal populations and in partnership with North Yorkshire Police, ERYC, SBC, RSPB, RSPCA, the Flamborough Head European Marine Site Management Scheme and with the support of the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and RNLI, Humberside Police are taking part in Operation Seabird. An operation to raise awareness about the importance of our coastline and reduce water-borne disturbance to the sensitive wildlife between Scarborough and Bridlington.
The award-winning Operation Seabird is now in its third year and launches again Today, Thursday 14 April 2022. Our local officers will be on hand along the East Yorkshire coastline to support the initiative.
Wildlife and Heritage Crime Officer Richard Fussey said, “The Yorkshire coastline is a fantastic landscape that’s an important feeding and breeding ground for a variety of seabirds and marine mammals.
“This valuable asset not only attracts visitors to explore the beaches and cliffs, but also attracts those wishing to explore the coastal waters themselves.
“Unfortunately we have a number of reports each year of members of the public on the water, approaching too closely to the wildlife that live the area including the nesting seabirds and marine mammals.
“The disturbance of these important species can impact on the success of their breeding and also cause cetaceans* in particular, high levels of stress, which could lead to future issues such as stranding and injuries through impact with water craft.
“Op Seabird is a multi-agency partnership operation to educate the public about the importance of the resident wildlife and the impact that these disturbance events can cause.
“The key focus of the operation is to ensure that members of the public, who are using the waters along the Yorkshire coast, do so in a responsible way. We want to ensure they keep their distance from the wildlife to prevent intentional disturbance and to safeguard this stretch of coastline, allowing future generations to enjoy the spectacle we see today.
“The UK National Wildlife Crime Unit awarded Operation Seabird the Wildlife Crime Partner Operation of the Year award for 2021. We also won the Humberside Police partnership award for Problem Orientated Policing. Nationally this season’s launch sees at least 15 forces taking part in the operation.
This collaboration is brilliant for raising awareness of behaviour that could affect marine mammals and our seabirds, and also for coastal collaboration in general with much of our coastline partners and charities supporting engagement and education.
“Each of the 15 forces and partner agencies will be focusing on their key areas and species for a consistent approach.
“We encourage visitors to our amazing coast and will be engaging with them on Thursday and throughout the summer. We ask people to “Observe, don’t disturb” our wildlife in its habitat.”
Heather Davison-Smith, Development Officer for the Yorkshire Marine Nature Partnership said, “Operation Seabird action days are a great opportunity to highlight how important our marine wildlife is, but also how sensitive it can be.
“Through this initiative, and the Partnership’s work around protected areas like Flamborough and Filey, we’re really encouraging everyone to be mindful of their actions. The simple message is: Enjoy spending time in nature this summer, but leave space for wildlife. This applies whether you’re at sea, walking your dog on the beach, or enjoying the cliff-top footpaths.”
More information about how to watch wildlife safely can be found on the YMNP’s website. https://ymnp.org.uk/discover/caring-for-our-coast/
PC Graham Bilton, the Rural Safer Neighbourhood Team Ward Manager and Wildlife Crime Officer within North Yorkshire, said: “It’s a real privilege to have such diverse marine wildlife visiting and making its home along our stretch of coastline.
“It is essential that we, together with the public, do our bit to protect it. By avoiding situations where disturbance and interference can occur, we can help these animals thrive, and ensure future generations can enjoy their presence too.
Operation Seabird is about advising and educating people to ensure they behave responsibly around marine wildlife in order to avoid disturbance and to lessen the negative impact we can have on our native fauna and flora, however if required we will not hesitate to take enforcement action against those who choose to ignore or flout the guidelines.
*A cetacean is a member of the family of large aquatic mammals such as whales, dolphins, and porpoises. The word cetacean comes from the Latin word cetus, which was used to refer to any large sea creature, and the Greek word ketos, which was a sea monster or whale. (Don’t say you don’t learn something new every day!)
All pictures courtesy of Heather Davison-Smith, Yorkshire Marine Nature Partnership Development Officer, Flamborough Head European Marine Site Management Scheme)
East Riding of Yorkshire Council – not to be used without permission