The public are being reminded of their responsibilities if they encounter animals protected under the Wildlife Act 1990.
It follows recent sightings of basking sharks in Isle of Man waters, one of the species protected by the Act.
Often referred to locally as ‘gentle giants’, basking sharks are regular visitors to the waters surrounding the Isle of Man, usually between May and mid-August. They are the second biggest fish in the world, with the biggest ever found measuring 13.72 metres long – the length of a double decker bus.
Minister for Environment, Food and Agriculture, Geoffrey Boot MHK, said:
'With our UNESCO biosphere status and the 2018 Year of Our Island celebration we want everyone to enjoy the Island and its wildlife, but with that comes responsibility. People must behave sensibly and appropriately if they encounter protected animals, making every effort not to disturb them.'
As well as basking sharks, a number of other species are protected under the Wildlife Act, such as: wild birds and their eggs, bats, crickets, frogs, dolphins, lizards, and seals.
These and other species are afforded special protection for a number of reasons such as their rarity, conservation status, vulnerability or because the Island is party to an international agreement to protect them.
Common sense should be applied when in the presence of wild animals, showing respect for their space and wellbeing, and the public should be mindful of their own safety.
For basking sharks in particular there is the Basking Shark Code of Conduct from the Shark Trust which offers helpful advice. For example, boats should get no closer than 100 metres from basking sharks and people no closer than four metres.
Constable Mark Kerruish, police Wildlife Crime Officer, said:
'The law in this area is clear and actively enforced. With the warm weather and the appearance of basking sharks, some may be tempted to try and get close to these animals, however it is an offence to deliberately disturb protected species.
'We’re not out to spoil anyone’s enjoyment – but the message is clear where protected animals are concerned: be respectful and admire from a safe distance taking every care not to disturb them.'