Beached humpback whale draws crowds

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IOL toti NM WHALE 3 THE MERCURY This dead whale was washed up by the tide at Pipeline Beach near Amanzimtoti on Thursday morning. A big crowd was on the beach to study the cetacean, with some hacking off blubber for food and bait. Picture: Marilyn Bernard

Durban - A dead humpback whale has washed ashore at Pipeline Beach near Amanzimtoti and has attracted hundreds of curious onlookers.

On Thursday traffic on the narrow Ocean View Road, leading to the beach, was at a standstill as locals made their way to see the unusual site.

Others came to harvest blubber for cooking and bait.

Raj Govender from Newlands East heard about the beached whale on the radio.

“I drove here as soon as I could, but I struggled to find this place. I thought that I could help save the whale by pushing it back into the water.

“It’s sad that such a beautiful creature dies like this, and I am disgusted by people chopping off its meat.”

Susan Willemse echoed Govender’s sentiments: “I am upset the poor thing is just lying there and people are cutting it up.”

James Wood, a marine district conservationist at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, said that they were alerted by a member of the public at around 7am that the dead whale had washed ashore.

Wood suspected that it might have been knocked unconscious by a ship and was washed ashore by the high tide on Thursday morning.

“Humpback whales commonly occur along the KZN coast, especially at this time of year.

“From May through to November they move from the Antarctic to our warmer waters to feed and females have their babies off Mozambique. They move back around October-November.”

He said the whale was a young adult of between five and six years old, about 14m-long and weighing roughly eight tons. He said the municipality would remove the whale because its decomposing body would attract sharks. He also said people were prohibited by law from being in possession of whale meat without a permit.

The Mercury

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