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Sunset Beach’s Kyle Nel was one of the first people to come across the rotting carcass of a 12-metre Southern Right whale on the beach on Saturday morning.
The once majestic animal, now just a badly decomposing mass of flesh entangled in rope, was lying in the breakers.
Before the City of Cape Town’s disaster management team arrived, Nel witnessed a triggertrap being removed from the whale’s tail by bystanders.
This trap, an invention designed to entrap octopus, was clearly not the cause of the whale’s death, but according to the Dolphin Action and Protection Group, this is the third whale to get caught up in these devices.
The source, who prefers to stay anonymous, says there are up to 600 of these traps placed near Cape Town, and added the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries have given permission for up to 6 000 to be used.
Ropes weighed down with cement drag the lines down vertically. The traps are placed horizontally along the lines, far beneath the surface of the water.
Meanwhile, the disaster management team and environmental affairs arrived a short while later, but their efforts to remove the carcass were hampered by rough seas and inclement weather.
Disaster Operations Centre acting head Wilfred Solomons-Johannes said the carcass, measuring 12 metres, was taken to the Vissershok Landfill Site where it was disposed of. He said what caused the whale’s death remains unclear.
TygerBurger spoke to the University of Cape Town Marine Research Institute’s Professor Charles Griffiths, who said it is not uncommon for whales to wash up on shore.
“The Southern Right whale, of which there are between 5000 and 6000 in the world, can live between 50 and 80 years. If they die further into the ocean they will sink to the bottom, but if closer to land they often drift onto the beaches,” he said.
During the morning, when Nel saw the whale in the breakers, there wasn’t a bad smell in the air, but just a few hours later the carcass began to rot.
According to Solomons-Johannes, the whole Sunset beachfront had “a distinct terrible smell”.
After much effort authorities finally loaded the huge carcass onto a truck and it was taken to the landfill site where it was buried.
One whale carcass can feed hundreds of bottom dwellers in the ocean for months.
Griffiths said it is unfortunate these carcasses are taken to landfill sites, but adds it would be a logistic nightmare and very expensive to transport the carcass it back out to sea.
***DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE WAS PUBLISHED IN TYGERBURGER, A CAPE TOWN BASED MEDIA24 COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER. IT MAY NOT BE DUPLICATED WITHOUT ACCREDITING THE SOURCE – TYGERBURGER, MEDIA24.***

 

 

 

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