By: Ann Kunz
Towards the end of February over 50 members of the public and staff or volunteers from associations working along the KZN coast gathered at uShaka Sea World Education to find out how they could help stranded marine animals on a beach.
Presentations by Jennifer Olbers (Ezemvelo Wildlife), Dr Francois Lampen, Hayley Tennant (SAAMBR) and Ryan Rambaran (SAAMBR) enlightened participants on subjects such as species identification, legislation, current challenges facing marine animals, ethics and the roles played by the integrated yet diverse organisations who make up the KZN Stranded Marine Animal Network team.
What to look out for, who to call, how to identify some of the more common KZN species, what to do and what not to do, what to photograph, how to call for help and much more were discussed. The afternoon sessions were held outside as they focussed on practical demonstrations of working with large and sometimes very agitated stranded mammals. Using a blow up plastic dolphin, seal transport boxes, some nets and a model of a penguin, the SAAMBR team demonstrated what first responders should do whilst they wait for help to arrive. As well as what to expect from the SAAMBR rehabilitation team when they reach the animal.
Domestic dogs and well-meaning but overzealous public usually add to animal stress. Therefore crowd control was discussed as this is almost always part of every large animal stranding. The merits of using cordoning tape whilst maintaining public interest and sympathy were explored and conclusions reached.
At the end of the day delegates left with copies of the latest Stranded Animal booklet for ease of reference.
Three more Marine Stranded Animal Workshops are planned for the first half of 2018. For further information contact firstname.lastname@example.org