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25 Aug 2017

Beached whale at Mtunzini to be left to decompose naturally

Orrin Singh (Zululand Observer) Picture: An adult Humpback whale washed ashore at Mtunzini on Wednesday and there is no obvious cause of death - PHOTO: Dale Dixon

 

There were no obvious signs of injury and the cause of death is still to be determined

A whale carcass washed ashore just north of Mtunzini’s main beach on Wednesday.

There were no obvious signs of injury and the cause of death is still to be determined.

Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Marine Ecologist, Dr Jennifer Olbers, told the ZO that the carcass will be left to decompose naturally.

‘As it has washed up in a protected area, protocol is that we leave it on the beach to decompose naturally.

‘It is an adult Humpback and there is no obvious cause of death,’ said Olbers.

This is believed to be the second Humpback whale that has washed ashore this year, compared to the 10 last year – the highest number of whale strandings in the history of monitoring the east coast.

Last month the ZO reported 74 strandings on KZN’s coastline in 2016, compared to 40 in 2015.

Coastal watchdogs believe the reason behind the dramatic increase was seismic surveys to find oil and gas deposits.

‘Despite requests by government departments and environmental groups to avoid undertaking surveys during the turtle hatching season (December to the end of March), the Humpback whale migration (June to November) and the sardine run (June to July), seismic surveys were undertaken off the KZN coastline between Durban and Richards Bay between 31 January and 24 July.’

‘Scientists have proven that seismic blasts can interrupt the communication, reproduction, navigation and eating habits essential to the survival of marine life, including whales, dolphins, turtles, fish and plankton,’ Olbers told the ZO in July.