CITY of Cape Town officials with Disaster Risk Management staff removes a 9m long Humpback whale near Melkbosstrand. | Henk Kruger African News Agency (ANA)
CITY of Cape Town officials with Disaster Risk Management staff removes a 9m long Humpback whale near Melkbosstrand. | Henk Kruger African News Agency (ANA)

Beached humpback whale found near Melkbosstrand beach

By Kristin Engel Time of article published Oct 18, 2021

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Cape Town - Melkbosstrand residents woke up to the unfortunate sight of beached 9m female humpback whale on a beach near the area after it washed ashore in the early hours of Monday morning.

Spatial Planning and Environment Mayco member Marian Nieuwoudt said the whale carcass was reported by a Van Riebeekstrand resident in Melkbosstrand at 7am just north of Sout River.

City of Cape Town officials and Disaster Risk Management teams were dispatched to the scene to remove the carcass.

“The carcass had no external injuries and it appears as if the whale might have died very recently from natural causes,” said Nieuwoudt.

Sea Search Research and Conservation co-director Simon Elwen said most beached marine mammals around Southern Africa were usually old, lost and/or diseased juveniles or calves.

“Where natural death occurs, the cause of death is very hard to figure out without an in depth pathological investigation, although beached animals often have high parasite loads so 'sickness' is a likely underlying cause or starvation – and that is possibly a cause here as many of the humpbacks around now are hungry after a long winter not feeding,” said Elwen.

Jaco Grobbelaar and his children looking at a washed up whale near Melkbosstrand. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
City of Cape Town officials with Disaster Risk Management staff remove a 9m long Humpback whale near Melkbosstrand. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
City of Cape Town officials with Disaster Risk Management staff remove a 9m long Humpback whale near Melkbosstrand. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
City of Cape Town officials with Disaster Risk Management staff remove a 9m long Humpback whale near Melkbosstrand. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
City of Cape Town officials with Disaster Risk Management staff remove a 9m long Humpback whale near Melkbosstrand. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
City of Cape Town officials with Disaster Risk Management staff remove a 9m long Humpback whale near Melkbosstrand. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
City of Cape Town officials with Disaster Risk Management staff remove a 9m long Humpback whale near Melkbosstrand. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)
City of Cape Town officials with Disaster Risk Management staff remove a 9m long Humpback whale near Melkbosstrand. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA)

Elwen said he was not aware if the whale died naturally or from a ship strike, a collision between any floating vessel and a marine animal in the ocean which was an increasing concern because over 50 whales were reported off both Kommetjie and off Llandudno on Sunday with ships passing just offshore of those areas. But from the media shared, the co-director said this particular whale death did not seem to be caused by a ship strike.

“Many people and organisations still think of ’whale season’ as ’winter in Hermanus’ but it’s much bigger and more complicated than that now and the high numbers of whales off the West Coast was a real concern in terms of potential impacts with ships and crayfish traps,” said Elwen.

Nieuwoudt said the carcass was removed from the site at approximately 10am this morning. The official cause of death was still unknown.

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