Residents who veered close to the shores of Strandfontein in Cape Town were greeted by the sight of a huge whale washed ashore at the False Bay coast.
Stretching 14.3 meters in length, the humpback whale was moved by truck to a large landfill site in Cape Town. A National Sea Rescue Institute issued warnings to beachgoers to remain cautious of the heightened shark activities along the coast of the washed-up carcass.
The carcass was then carefully maneuvered and wrenched onto the back of a flatbed truck before being transported to the Vissershock Landfill site close to Table View.
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An official at Cape Town’s coastal management branch, Jacques du Toit explained how large machinery had to be authorized to move this animal. The process required provincial authorization to use a huge truck. The standard policy states that no one is authorized to possess or transport any part of a whale. In that case, the dead animal must be removed in accordance with the whale carcass removal policy.
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On average, the city has to remove 10 to 15 stranded whales from its shores. The cause of death of the animal is yet to be determined. Whale groupings frequent the area meaning an increased likelihood of washed-up carcasses on the coastline.
Mr. Toit was relieved that the animal washed up in an area that was accessible. He recollected situations where the whale would wash up close to large rocks and dunes, where cars cannot access. If left to the happenings of nature, the 25-ton chunk of carcass would emit a foul stink that would reach homes nearby. It also poses a health risk to surfers and bathers closeby as it attracts sharks. The National Sea Rescue Institute earlier sent a warning to beachgoers to exercise caution around the False Bay coast.
Commercial whaling that was very popular in the first part of the 20th century almost driving Humpback whales into extinction. The species has remained protected since 1946. Recently, their numbers have started recovering. In 2008 the IUCN moved them from Vulnerable to Least Concern classification. Despite the improvement in their assessment, a quarter of cetacean species are threatened, with others in critically endangered territory.
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Whales are also threatened by ship strikes, entanglements in fishing gear, destruction of their habitats, reduced prey numbers, and noise disturbances. The reduction in commercial whaling over the years was a good first step. However, cases of whales getting entangled in fishing gear are on the rise. Military sonar is another threat to deep-diving cetaceans such as beaked whales. Over the past 3 decades, the numbers of mass strandings are at an all-time high. Climate change too is affecting the distribution of whales today. A perfect example of the adverse climatic effects is rising water temperatures that threaten the populations of krill affecting the food supply of whales around the Antarctic.
Ph Credit: © AP
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Stranded Humpback whale washes onto a beach near Cape Town
Strandfontein, Cape Town, South Africa