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Operation to tow dead humpback whale, while 4786.66 litres of alcohol confiscated at beaches

The washed-up humpback whale. Picture: Supplied

The washed-up humpback whale. Picture: Supplied

Published Jan 4, 2022

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Cape Town - Coastal authorities are racing around the clock by high-tide today at 4.30pm to remove a carcass of the juvenile humpback whale which washed up at Clifton beach this morning.

The Head: Coastal Policy Development and Management Programmes, City of Cape Town, Darryl Colenbrander, told Weekend Argus they were arranging a vessel to assist in towing the whale.

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They will be using high tide to assist in the process.

Beachgoers have since been cautioned not to visit Clifton as a precautionary measure after the Humpback whale measuring 9m washed up.

The death of the whale is under investigation and is believed to be natural.

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Law enforcement officers were called to the beach to caution visitors from entering the area.

Authorities have confirmed this was the second whale to have washed ashore in less than a month.

Colendbrander said the operation to tow the whale was in process. “We are still currently at the beach and we have determined this is a juvenile humpback whale.

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“We are in the process of arranging a vessel to tow it off and will do so at high-tide at 4.30pm.

“Given the topography of the area, it is impossible to remove the carcass with machinery from land.

“We will need to remove it from the sea with the help of a large vessel at high tide.

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“If all goes as planned, we will tow the whale carcass off the beach to the Oceana Power Boat Club where it will be loaded and taken to the Vissershok landfill.”

He added The National Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment had been informed and will be collecting samples.

“Law enforcement officers are on site to secure the immediate area, and lifesavers at Clifton 4th Beach will advise visitors to stay out of the ocean at all of the Clifton beaches as a precautionary measure,” he said.

“The City was informed that a humpback whale carcass of approximately 9m washed ashore in the early hours of this morning.

“The National Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has been notified and will collect samples and measurements for scientific analysis.”

He added the whales which were part of a large group had been visiting the Atlantic: “The cause of death is uncertain, but it is likely to be natural. A large pod of humpbacks has been visiting the Atlantic seaboard since November and this is the second to wash ashore. On December 9, 2021, an 8m carcass washed ashore at Sea Point.”

City’s deputy Mayco member for Spatial Planning and Environment, Eddie Andrews, said the public is advised to steer clear of the area until further notice: “In the meantime, I request the public to please avoid the area and to allow the agencies on site to do what needs to be done. The City also discourages any bathing at the Clifton beaches. This is normal practice along the city’s coastline when a whale carcass washes ashore and is a precautionary measure in the unlikely event that sharks may be attracted to the area.”

Meanwhile, Mayco member for Safety and Security JP Smith said alcohol confiscation on beaches had reduced compared to last year.

Last year just over 10 000 litres were confiscated.

This year 4 786.66 litres were removed.

“The City’s enforcement agencies have confiscated 8 699 bottles of alcohol this festive season, amounting to 4 786.66 litres,” Smith said.

“The bulk of the confiscations happened on Boxing Day (2 315 bottles). On New Year’s Day, confiscations totalled 1 206 bottles.

“I think the weather on New Year’s Day was the biggest contributing factor, as our beaches were not nearly as busy as they might have been otherwise. Or perhaps the penny is finally dropping, and some people are starting to realise that alcohol is best left at home.

“Removing the alcohol through impounding it is no mean feat. Many people become riotous or refuse to co-operate.

“But I want to remind the public that every litre of alcohol confiscated is potentially one fewer person driving drunk, or swimming drunk, or getting involved in a fight or an accident or hurting someone else.”

Weekend Argus

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