THIS summer's good weather has generated increased dolphin sightings in North Devon, but marine organisations and the police have warned too much human interaction can be detrimental to the animals.
Those who have enjoyed boat trips and tours along the coast particularly in Ilfracombe have had the opportunity to be joined by dolphins, one of whom has been named Dave the dolphin.
Dave's dedicated Facebook page is now at 1,039 "likes", with people posting photos of their lucky encounters with dolphins.
It has been a wonderful experience for those visiting North Devon to see the dolphins leaping out of the water, but Wildlife Crime Officer PC Martin Beck hopes to raise people's awareness on protecting our marine life.
He said: "With such a strong emotional connection to dolphins from fictional films such as Flipper, it is hard not to want to have a close encounter.
"I support our tourist industry and the recent marine activity has reminded us of the amazing place we live in, but after receiving several reports of potentially harmful activity, I need to remind people that dolphins are protected by law as a European protected species.
"They can be harmed by human contact.
"Disturbance to European protected species is a criminal offence so recreational activities including sailing boats, motor boats, and personal watercraft such as jet skis are a real concern and threat near these animals.
"Only last month a young bottlenose dolphin was found dead in Cornwall's Camel estuary and is suspected to have fallen foul of recreational watercraft.
"Let us enjoy their company but let's keep them safe and us safe in doing so."
The WiSe Scheme is an organisation for commercial marine wildlife watching, and aims to protect marine wildlife, while encouraging the positive and caring attitudes people have towards marine life.
Colin Speedie, the founder and director of the scheme has some valuable tips on how to ensure a positive experience for all involved when interacting with dolphins.
He said: "There are a few main points to remember when in the presence of dolphins.
"If a dolphin approaches your vessel, maintain a steady speed and do not veer off course as this could confuse dolphins and cause them to panic.
"If there are already three vessels present, please do not join in as too many boats will frighten and confuse the dolphins.
"Be particularly careful when in the presence of a dolphin and her calf, as they are very maternal. Interacting with a dolphin and her young could cause disruption to the mother-calf bond.
"Once you have encountered a dolphin, do not stay with them for longer than 15 minutes, and try to make sure that your boat is no closer than 100 metres."
This year has seen an exceptional summer, with the good weather encouraging people to flock to the coast to see our beloved dolphins.
Joanne Woodward has been spending quality time with Dave the dolphin in Combe Martin.
She said: "I've been kayaking nearly every other day to go out and see Dave the dolphin.
"Dolphins are such amazing creatures, and it is great to see them in the water in North Devon. This is such a privilege.
"These last few weeks have been wonderful, I'm really passionate about kayaking and seeing the dolphins, people have been calling me the dolphin stalker.
"I went out kayaking with my husband and child, and Dave the dolphin was around us for hours. He was putting on a show and seemed really excited.
"I have noticed that some jet skis can get a bit too close, they forget they have motors and this can be disruptive. It's a shame to spoil the time we have with these lovely creatures.
"The last thing we want to see is for Dave the dolphin to get hurt by a jet ski or a speed boat. I'd be devastated if something happened to him."
For further information on responsible wildlife-watching from the WiSe scheme, visit www.wisescheme.org.