A Bryde's whale at Miller’s Point was the latest victim of octopus traps, after it got entangled in ropes linked to the traps and died. Photo: Supplied
Cape Town – In the past two years, eight whales have been killed as a result of octopus traps around Miller’s Point.

The latest incident saw a Bryde's whale become tangled in octopus trap ropes and die.

The whale’s carcass floated to the surface and had to be hauled to shore - a very expensive operation, according to Craig Foster of the Sea Change Project, a non-profit organisation made up of volunteers, scientists and conservations journalists who study various aspects of marine life.

Foster said that for about 15 years, a company that has been fishing for octopuses in the area had caused huge problems to the marine life there, with many animals getting caught in its traps, including whales.

“They’ve killed at least eight whales in the last two years. The number could be higher, we aren’t sure how many have been entrapped and got freed, we aren’t sure how many are out there injured it probably struggled and drowned after a torturous day,” Foster said.

He added that another whale had been entangled recently but was rescued.

“I imagine that it’s very traumatised.”

Foster said they weren’t able to quantify the damage that octopus fishing did to marine life.

“There can be a whole ecosystem collapse. If you reduce a species enough it will collapse the ecosystem.

“It’s very difficult to (quantify the damage) because it’s happening on a big scale. What’s worrying is that we’re seeing a lot of our big predators leaving the bay. 

"It used to be a wonderful great white shark area, but now there are none of them there. They feed on octopus and we aren’t saying this is a direct impact, but we don’t know.”

Cape Times