Coast KZN

04 May 2018

Dolphin washes up on Durban beach

Zainul Dawood (Daily News) Picture: An adult female bottlenose dolphin washed up on Wedge beach in Durban. (Picture: Kelly De Klerk, SAAMBR)

An adult female bottlenose dolphin which washed up on Wedge Beach in Durban will undergo an autopsy to determine the cause of its death on Friday.

Gabby Harris, a member of the South African Marine and Biological Research(SAAMBR), said when they arrived at the beach on Thursday afternoon the dolphin was facing out to sea in shallow water and the sea tide was going out.

“There were no visible signs of injury. She seemed in good health. It is an Indian Ocean dolphin. We took the dolphin to our facility at the Ushaka Marine World where scientists will determine the cause of death,” she said.

Harris said it was an emotional experience for the team because they work with dolphins on a daily basis at the uShaka marine world. She has been a member of SAAMBR for 28 years. The dolphin will be weighed and measured as well.

“We need to find out why this happened for our research purposes. The incident also gave us time to educate onlookers about pollution and mammals that are out at sea,” Harris said.

In November 2017, the Daily News reported that a marine scientist told the Symposium for Contemporary Conservation Practice in Howick that there was a record number of whale and dolphin strandings amid gas and oil exploration taking place along the KwaZulu-Natal coast.

Commenting on the claims, last year, senior Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife marine ecologist, DrJennifer Olbers, said the verdict was still out on whether seismic surveys, which use active sonar (sound navigation and ranging), are causing whale and dolphin deaths.

During seismic surveys by the oil and gas industry, air guns are blasted underwater every 10-15seconds for 24hours a day, producing noise levels of about 200decibels.

Research in other parts of the world indicated that seismic noise was harmful to several marine creatures, particularly whales and dolphins, but currently, there was not sufficient scientific evidence to prove this, Olbers said.