Cape Town – Ocean and beach users were warned to be on alert for shark activity along the Strand beachfront and towards Gordon’s Bay and Macassar this weekend after a Humpback whale carcass washed ashore on Strand Beach.
The carcass already had a number of small bites taken by small predator sharks.
The carcass was taken to the Vissershok landfill for disposal late afternoon on Saturday after a massive 18-hour operation by the City to remove the adult male Humpback whale that was 15m long and weighed a total 20 tons.
The carcass was spotted floating earlier on Friday afternoon but only beached later that day.
The City’s coastal manager Gregg Oelofse said there were approximately three to five Humpback carcasses on Cape Town’s coastline every year. Between now and March next year, Oelofse said they expected to have a couple more carcasses wash up on the City’s coastline, but they also might have none.
In December last year, there was one on Sea Point and another on Clifton Fourth.
“We have a specialist whale removal team in our solid waste department that had to move the 20-ton glob of blubber from the beach on to a flat-bed truck, which was taken to Vissershok landfill for disposal.
“Saturday’s operation was probably about 18 hours, some staff went to the site at 6am on Saturday and only returned home at 3am on Sunday,” Oelofse said.
Oelofse compared the scale of the operation to moving a house; numerous directors and staff were involved that had to go fetch bulldozers and drive them down to the beach where it took 12 hours to manoeuvre the massive animal onto a flat-bed truck.
Oelofse said nothing sinister caused the whale’s death, it was likely a natural mortality although it was almost impossible to determine the cause of death.
Officials from the national Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment came down to take measurements and samples from the animal for testing, research and tracking the population.
On Friday evening, the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) and the City released a shark alert for water users to be cautious in the Strand vicinity where the large whale carcass had beached.
NSRI spokesperson Craig Lambinon said: “It is normal for a whale carcass to attract sharks and caution is advised. We are appealing to water users along the Strand beachfront and towards Gordon’s Bay and towards Macassar to be aware of possible increased shark activity in the area due to the whale carcass and to exercise caution.”
The City’s coastline was filled with interesting marine activity as on Sunday morning Alex Lansdowne, chairperson of the City’s mayoral advisory committee on water quality in wetlands and waterways, also sighted a Southern Humpback Whale visiting Sea Point Promenade.
Lansdowne said there were huge bait balls off the promenade over the last few weeks and the whales were forming megapods in Table Bay, likely feeding off of these.