To the rescue: group helps beached stingray

2011-10-11 00:00

A BEACHED stingray that was in labour received assistance from Margate resident Alison Hartley and some tourists on Glenmore Beach recently after they rushed to its aid.

Hartley says that she was standing on the deck of the ski-boat club when she noticed a group of people gathered on the beach.

“A lady came running up to the deck saying that there was a beached stringray and it was having babies!” she said.

Hartley and her friend, Jurgen Garmlich, ran down to the scene to see how they could help.

As Hartley and a few others were busy with the mother and her last born, another group of helpers were running up and down the beach picking up the ray’s other two babies. “The babies just kept being swept back onto the beach in the big shore break. Finally the one I was helping managed to get into the current and made its way out.”

A holiday maker had picked up one of the babies on his shoe and took it to the south side of the bay where the water was much calmer and set it on its journey. “We put the last baby on a body board and took it to the same corner and released it.”

The group was then tasked with getting the exhausted mother back into the water where she could then swim out to sea safely.

“One of the guys held the ray by its wings and lifted her as much as he could while I got behind him and pushed the body board under the ray and Jurgen kept its tail under control with a stick,” says Hartley. They carried her to the same corner where the babies were released and slipped her off into the water.

Fearing that the babies and mum might wash out again Hartley and a few others patrolled the beach for another three hours. “We watched the two other babies until they were out of sight and after a few hours we didn’t see anything so one can assume that they are all okay.”

Harley said a local fisherman had later told them that a few days prior another stingray had washed out and given birth to five babies in a similar way.

Jeremy Cliff, from the Natal Sharks Board Research Unit, said that this was unusual behaviour for stingrays.

“It is definitely not normal behaviour for rays to beach when they are giving birth. The mother might have moved to shallow waters, but ended up coming out too much.” Cliff said that it is difficult to tell if the mum and her babies would or would not have survived if they had not received assistance as there are many factors to consider.

• witness@feveronline.co.za

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