When sailing the Little Belt waters, please be advised that your vessel may be a disturbance to the marine inhabitants. Porpoises, a small whale species, are abundant in the Little Belt, particularly in its narrow parts. And they use sounds as an important part of their life.
Going faster than 5 knots, for example, may cause a disturbance to the whales. Studies show that underwater boat noise is particularly likely to have an impact on the behaviour and foraging patterns of these marine mammals.
Failure to consider the whales may have the following repercussions:
– Interrupted foraging, which may lead to reduced feeding, reducing the fitness and the chances of survival as well as reproduction for the whale
– Fleeing a source of disturbance will increase the whale’s energy consumption, reducing its fitness and chances of survival as well as reproduction
– Long-term stress, leading to a higher risk of disease and a shorter lifespan
– Interruptions of porpoise mothers with calves cause less suckling time, reducing the energy transfer to the calf, possibly leading to increased calf mortality rates.
Steady and slow down your boat when there are porpoises in the area. Motor boats going faster than 5 knots are particularly likely to cause a disturbance; this is especially the case in the narrowest part of the Little Belt, with high porpoise concentrations and few escape routes for porpoises.
Recognize and respect the speed limits. There are rules for sailing the Little Belt, including but not limited to, the use of motor-driven vessels (motor boats), jetskis and water scooters, in both of the local police precincts. For instance, please be advised that within a 300 meter distance of the entire coast line, the speed limit is 5 knots. Furthermore, water scooters etc. are not allowed to sail in the areas hatched on the map below.
You are responsible for knowing and complying with any rules and regulations that apply on this matter.
As a part of the project ‘Belt in Balance’, Naturpark Lillebælt recently published a memorandum in collaboration with the Institute for Ecoscience at Aarhus University. This memorandum contains a code of conduct regarding whale tourism and boating activity in the vicinity of porpoises in the Little Belt. The recommendations below are founded in said memorandum; find it here (in Danish only).
Adfærdskodeks for hvalturisme og bådaktivitet omkring marsvin i Lillebælt (Code of Conduct) (au.dk)