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The carcass of a 15 metre adult Humpback whale, which washed ashore on a secluded beach near Umdloti on Monday afternoon, has now moved south towards Umhlanga. The massive creature was originally spotted near the Tugela River mouth on Sunday morning, before floating inshore towards Westbrook.
After Specialised Rescue Unit, together with NSRI Ballito, towed the carcass out to sea, strong onshore winds blew it back to shore, eventually resting on the rocks at Peace Cottage between Umdloti and Umhlanga.
The whale carcass was towed out to sea on Sunday, but onshore winds pushed it back to the shore. Photo: Specialised Rescue Duty Crew.
Responsibility for its removal was then passed on to the eThekwini municipality, with the best option being for them to chop the carcass up and remove the pieces. However, on Monday afternoon, the inshore current was enough to move the whale further south towards Bronze beach, eventually coming in between the Umhlanga pier and the lighthouse.
Senior Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife marine ecologist Dr Jennifer Olbers, who is assisting, said the whale will most likely have to be cut up. “We cannot get boats out in these conditions, so we can do nothing but wait for it to wash up on to the shore,” said Dr Olbers. “It is about knee deep and has been there for hours. It’s already in so many pieces so towing it out now will be almost impossible.”
The cause of death is unknown, with most of the visible injuries on the whale being shark bites.
“Because it had been nibbled on so much it is difficult to say whether it had been struck by anything,” said Specialised Rescue Unit’s Quentin Power.