Yesterday, a male juvenile humpback whale washed out on the rocky shores of Onrus. The animal had clearly been dead for a few days, as most of the skin was already gone (hence the dominating white colour, which is blubber). This male had some scarring of cookiecutter sharks as well as from rolling in the rocks; no clear signs of the cause of mortality could be detected.
As the tide was coming in, only basic samples were taken including skin, blubber and some barnacles as well as whale lice. Unfortunately, due to the position of the whale, we were unable to collect baleen, which could provide us with a ton of information on the whales' recent movement patterns, foraging ecology and hormone levels. This baleen might still wash out in the next few days, so if someone were to find it, please contact us!
As we approach winter, whale season is upon us. This means that we will not only see these magnificent creatures swimming near our shores, but we'll also see more whale strandings on our beaches. If you find a marine mammal along the coast you are urged to call the Municipality on 028 313 8000 and ask for the Environmental Management Section, or you can reach us on 060 9714301. These strandings provide a wealth of information to us, and so your assistance in reporting them is much appreciated!
The Overberg Stranding Network is a collaborative group of organisations that ensure as much information as possible is retrieved from every stranding, that live animals are refloated or euthanised if necessary and that carcasses are disposed of safely if they come ashore in a built-up area.
Stranding response in the Overberg area is managed by a collaborative group of organisations: CapeNature, Department of Environmental Affairs, Dyer Island Conservation Trust, Hermanus Animal Hospital 24 hr service, Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit, NSRI, Overberg District Municipality and Overstrand Municipality.