Workshop held to address potential coastal and marine mass stranding

What would we do if there was a mass stranding of marine mammals on a KwaZulu-Natal beach? This was the question answered at a recent workshop hosted by Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife (EKZNW) and uShaka Sea World at uShaka Sea World in Durban. 

Representatives of EKZNW, the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, the Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife and uShaka Sea World, as well as provincial and national government representatives, city officials, law enforcement officers and lifeguards worked together at the workshop to produce an action plan to handle a mass stranding event.

uShaka Sea World staff attend to a stranded turtle

Although it is highly unlikely that mass stranding will occur on a KwaZulu-Natal beach, it is important to be prepared.

KwaZulu-Natal is well equipped to handle single stranding events, and a number of these are managed each year. Close collaboration between EKZNW, the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board and uShaka Sea World ensure that each stranded animal is given the best possible attention.

Unfortunately, most stranded whales and dolphins are usually too injured or ill to be rescued, although wherever possible the animals are returned to the sea.

The natural mortality rate in young whales and dolphins is high, and some of these compromised individuals do end up on a beach. There is often little that human intervention can do to assist these animals.

As the population of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) along our coast increases due to commercial whaling operations having stopped, it is likely that more calves will strand along our coast.

uShaka Sea World is well placed to assist stranded animals as its staff of experienced veterinarians, veterinary nurses and animal behaviourists has extensive experience in the care of whales and dolphins. The outcomes of the workshop will ensure that should a mass stranding occur, the province is prepared to manage the event.

Representatives from Ezemvelo KwaZulu-Natal Wildlife, the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, the Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife and uShaka Sea World, as well as provincial and national government representatives, city officials, law enforcement officers and lifeguards attended the workshop

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