Coast KZN

26 Sep 2017

Shark nets removed to prevent whale entanglements

(THE MERCURY: ENVIRONMENT) Picture: Photo by Sho Hatakeyama on Unsplash

To prevent the entanglement of migrating humpback whales in shark nets, the KZN Sharks Board has decided to temporarily remove them in certain areas.

“(In) an attempt to find a suitable solution to this we have, in consultation with the Sharks Board Research Division, agreed on a way forward for the next month or so.

During periods of intense whale activity the two nets at Zinkwazi and one at Blythedale will be removed and replaced with additional drumlines as a temporary measure.”

He said after examining 10 years of shark capture data for these two beaches, they were confident that this short-term variation to the gear would not lead to any increase in risk for bathers.

“Drumlines match the catch statistics of nets in terms of the capture of both the great white and tiger shark.

Bull sharks are the other species of concern which are predominantly a summer species. Captures of these during September and October are very low.”

Anderson-Reade said that most of these whales would leave the coast by the end of October and early November for the summer feeding grounds in the Antarctic.

“This approach may be considered during peak whale season at other protected beaches along the KZN coast in the years ahead.”

He said the humpback whale population had recovered “extremely well” since whaling had ceased during the early 1970s.

“The current population estimates for our region during the winter migration period (June to November) is estimated to be approximately 15 000, increasing at a rate of 11% per annum.”