Ponta do Ouro, Mozambique - Dolphin Encountours Research Center attended to a stranded humpback whale on the beach in Ponta do Ouro.
On-route a call of assistance was put out to operators and locals if in the event the whale could be re-floated after it was reported still alive by Marcus Joubert at sunrise. On arrival, a growing number of people could be seen gathering around the whale that was lying in the waves.
An assessment was undertaken together telephonically with Dr Jennifer Olbers from the KZN Marine Stranding Network and it was concluded that the whale was in poor health, given it’s body condition, the large presence of whale lice, shallow, irregular breathing and un-responsiveness. With this in mind the decision was taken not to attempt a re-float as this was cause
stress and let the whale pass on in peace. A difficult and painful call to make, for all involved.
Fillimone Javane, a PPMR Reserve Guard together with his team assisted in translating the situation to the growing crowds while volunteers, lead by citizen scientist Angie went about collecting measurements and taking blubber and skin samples for analysis. A pectoral was removed for later museum display.
Finding ourselves ill equipped to deal with this type of stranding on a popular beach and a growing amount of pressure and tension from the local populace the decision was made to let the harvest begin after the data was collected. It was made known that we did not know why the whale had died and consumption of meat was at ones own risk.
By 4pm the shoreline was littered with blubber and all that remained was a carcass washing around in the incoming tide. An increase of sharks activity was expected in the area and this was confirmed at sunset when a shark/s was filmed in the shore break.
The beaches and bays in the area will be monitored in the coming days and bathers should be aware of the current risks of swimming while the remnants of the whale are still around.
A shout out of thanks to all the volunteers that assisted with this mammoth task.
During the coming weeks a stranding response team will be set up to better deal with these events in future. DERC will be calling on sponsorship in order to have on hand
the necessary safety gear and equipment. This is the 26th stranding that has been recorded in the Reserve since the organisation stated operating in the area.