KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board - Humpback Carcass Found Floating At Sea
KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board - Humpback Carcass Found Floating At Sea

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KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board - Humpback Carcass Found Floating At Sea


The Sharks Board Head of Operations, Mike Anderson-Reade, received a call from the NSRI on the morning of Monday 28th October reporting a possible overturned boat off Glenashley beach, Durban North. Upon investigating it was found to be the decomposing carcass of an 9m adult humpback whale drifting inshore about 500m from the beach. These carcasses are known to attract very large sharks and our concern was that it would wash ashore close to the Durban beachfront swimming beaches. This may have resulted in the unnecessary capture in the nets of the sharks that were scavenging on the remains and also a created major logistical problem for Ethekweni Municipality to remove the carcass which was estimated to weigh approximately 20tons.

Two Sharks Board’s ski boats were despatched from the Port of Durban to attempt to tow the remains as far offshore as was possible, considering the very rough sea conditions that were prevailing at the time. The carcass which had 3 large tiger and a great white shark scavenging on it was towed approximately 10km out to sea and it was hoped that the current would keep the remains away from the coast whilst nature took its course.

A call was received yesterday afternoon (Tuesday) from the operators of the tug, Siyakula, which is responsible for assisting oil tankers discharging at the SBM (Single Buoy Mooring) off Isipingo on the Bluff, informing the Board that the whale carcass was situated 1.2nm offshore near Isipingo. There were large sharks scavenging off the carcass and they were concerned that the animal may wash ashore in the Amanzimtoti area. Sharks Board boats were despatched to the Inyoni Rocks launch site however were unable to launch due to the adverse conditions.

Captain Simon Radebe, the Master of the Smit Amandla Marine tug Siyakula, kindly agreed to assist and managed to attach a line onto the carcass and tow it offshore, well away from the popular bathing beaches. The Sharks Board aircraft was despatched early this morning to locate the carcass and decide if further action would be required. The carcass was located 5.5 km offshore of Greenpoint on the south coast. Fifteen large sharks were seen scavenging on the remains. The slick from the decomposing whale is drifting offshore and a substantial amount of theanimal has been scavenged.

Neither Smit Amandla Marine nor the Sharks Board is responsible for the disposal of dead whales and the towing of this carcass by both organisations was carried out in the interests of public safety and to avert a major disposal problem for the municipality.

Humpback whale populations are currently extremely healthy with the estimated number of animals visiting the KZN coast in winter to be in the region of 14000. These animals are currently migrating southwards to their summer feeding grounds in the Antarctic region. The population has increased substantially over the past 10 years and natural mortality and unusual events for example, ship strikes, are likely to occur on a more frequent basis resulting in similar situations.

These carcasses are a major problem if they wash ashore as their enormous size makes removal or disposal extremely difficult and they are a major attraction to large, dangerous sharks. Local authorities should be contacted if a whale carcass is spotted drifting near the coastline so that it can be towed out to sea before washing up onto the beach.

Mike Anderson-Reade


KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board

KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board - Humpback Carcass Found Floating At Sea

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