Whale carcass towed away from beaches

2013-10-31 00:00

TWO Sharks Board’s ski boats had to be despatched yesterday to tow a whale carcass out to sea, in a move to keep sharks from following the “meat feast” to the coastline.

Sharks Board head of operations Mike Anderson-Reade received a call on Monday about a possible overturned boat off Glen­ashley Beach in Durban North.

The “boat” turned out to be the decomposing carcass of a nine-metre-long adult humpback whale drifting inshore about 500 metres from the beach.

The carcass, which had three large tiger and a great white shark scavenging on it, was towed approximately 10 km out to sea and it was hoped that the current would keep the remains away from the coast while nature took its course.

Reade said the disposal of dead whales was not the Sharks Board’s responsibility, but due to concern for the beach it was decided to tow it out to sea.

“These whales are incredibly large and are impossible for us to move. If we had to dispose of them ourselves we would have to cut them piece by piece and that would take us quite a long time,” he said.

A call was received on Tuesday afternoon from the operators of the tug, Siyakula, which is responsible for assisting oil tankers, informing the board that the whale carcass had returned offshore near Isipingo. There were large sharks scavenging off the carcass and they were concerned that the animal might wash ashore in the Amanzimtoti area.

“When we got to the scene this morning the carcass was located 5,5 km offshore of Greenpoint on the South Coast. Fifteen large sharks were seen scavenging on the remains.”

Reade added the carcasses of whales attract sharks and the safety of occupants on the beach was a priority.

Captain Simon Radebe, the master of the Smit Amandla Marine tug Siyakula, agreed to assist and managed to attach a line onto the carcass and tow it offshore, well away from the popular bathing beaches.

Humpback whales are currently migrating southwards to their summer feeding grounds in the Antarctic region.

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