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 KZN Wildlife (EKZNW) and uShaka Sea World. Representatives of EKZNW, the Natal Sharks Board, CROW, uShaka Sea World, 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.
Although it is highly unlikely that mass stranding will occur on a KZN beach, it is important to be prepared.
KZN is well equipped to handle single stranding events and a number of these are managed each year. Close collaboration between EKZNW, the 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 human intervention can do to assist these animals.
As the population of Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) along our coast increases, since commercial whaling operations stopped, it is likely that more calves will strand along our coast.
uShaka Sea World is well placed to assist stranded animals as their staff of experienced veterinarians, veterinary nurses and animal behaviourists have 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.