Six of the 20 beached whales at Noordhoek yesterday survived and five were last night seen swimming strongly in the sea by those on boats following them in False Bay, Western Cape.
Five of the Pilot whales were saved by rescue organisations. They were loaded onto trailers and transported to the SA Naval Dockyard before being released at sea by two Navy tug boats. The sixth whale swam away through the surf during the early morning.
Despite attempts to save the others throughout the day yesterday, 24 March, five whales died of natural causes on Noordhoek Beach and nine whales in poor health and suffering were humanely euthanised by Veterinary Surgeons assisted with the guidance of the SPCA and Marine Scientists from the Department of Environmental affairs – Oceans and Coasts.
Tom Coetzee, NSRI Kommetjie station commander, said at 7.43 am NSRI volunteer sea rescue duty crews from Sea Rescue stations in Kommetjie, Hout Bay, Simonstown, Strandfontein, Bakoven and Table Bay were activated following reports of 20 Pilot whales beached at Noordhoek Beach between Hout Bay and Kommetjie, Cape Town.
NSRI volunteer sea rescue duty crew launched sea rescue craft from Kommetjie and from Hout Bay and NSRI rescuers responded. The City of Cape Town Disaster Management, The Department of Environmental Affairs – Oceans and Coasts, the SPCA, Law Enforcement, Law Enforcement Marine Unit, Table Mountain National Park Rangers, the SA Police Services, Police Sea Border Line, Cape Town Traffic, 2 Veterinary Surgeons and various marine agency volunteers also responded. Plus the WC Government Health EMS, Police Divers and the SA Navy were placed on alert., while several private companies and private volunteers made their services available to the authorities – some of which was used and highly appreciated.
“The media played an important role by broadcasting an urgent appeal by the authorities to stay away from the area as access routes were immediately identified as an initial hazard if blocked as heavy equipment and heavy vehicles were needed at the scene. Media continued to assist throughout the day by continuing to broadcast the message that the beach was closed to the public and by updating the public regularly on the situation,” Coetzee said.
On arrival on-scene four whales were found dead and six appeared in reasonable good health. One whale lying in shallow surf later swam away and one died naturally during the morning. Nine whales in poor shape were humanely euthanised.
Five whales were loaded onto trailers and trucks and transported to the SA Naval Dockyard in Simonstown and transported to sea by two SA Navy tug boats and then released. One Navy tug boat had two whales on board and one Navy tug boat had three whales on board.
One of the the released whales beached itself again on a Simonstown beach and was later reloaded onto one of the SA Navy tug boats using a crane on the tug boat.
The 14 whale carcasses were removed from the beach. Marine Scientists have taken samples of the whales for forensic analysis.
All emergency agencies, private companies and private individuals ande members of the public and media that were at the scene are commended for their efforts.
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