Coast KZN

07 Dec 2021

uShaka Sea World rescues, releases round ribbontail ray stuck in the old submarine dock on Salisbury Island

Thobeka Ngema (Daily News: IOL) Picture: Supplied: A team from uShaka Sea World donned their diving gear and climbed down a rope ladder into the water, which was about 3m deep to rescue the ray.

Durban – A team from uShaka Sea World rescued a round ribbontail ray which was stuck in the old submarine dock on Salisbury Island.

Ann Kunz of the South African Association for Marine Biological Research said last Thursday that uShaka Sea World was notified by Lieutenant-Colonel G Morey from the harbour police/water wing that a large sting ray had become entrapped in the old submarine dock on Salisbury Island (Naval base).

Kunz said initial attempts to assess the ray’s condition were unsuccessful as the water was cloudy and far too dirty to see the ray. The harbour police continued to check on the ray over the weekend and thankfully, on Monday morning, conditions had improved to such an extent that they were able to confirm that the ray was alive but still trapped.

She said staff from the uShaka Sea World curatorial team loaded their vehicle with the equipment needed to rescue and release the ray before heading for Salisbury Island. The equipment included a small crane mounted on its own trailer.

“On arrival, the team took time to access the situation before they began planning the unique rescue operation. The ray was confirmed to be a female round ribbontail ray of approximately 150 kg. Once all the equipment was set up, the team donned their diving gear and climbed down a rope ladder into the water which was about three metres deep,” Kunz said. “They slowly guided the ray into the specially designed stretcher before hoisting her out of the water by crane. Thankfully their efforts to ensure she remained calm throughout the half-hour process proved successful.”

She added that the ray was then carefully carried the short distance to the adjacent slipway by stretcher and released.

uShaka Sea World staff Matt Needham, Jason Haxton and Reinhardt de Koker releasing the ray. Pictures: Supplied

uShaka Sea World senior aquarist Jason Haxron said: “Although the conditions in the ’submarine dock’ were not ideal, we could not stand by and watch this magnificent animal in trouble without trying to assist. I am grateful to the harbour police, the navy and my amazing colleagues who assisted in this unique and well-executed rescue operation. Hopefully she stays out of trouble in the future!”