Humpback whale carcass washes up at Mtunzini

HUMPBACK WHALE CARCASS WASHES UP AT MTUNZINI: This adult humpback whale was discovered on Wednesday in the Umlalazi Nature Reserve and is about 12m long. Because it washed up in a protected area, it will be left on the beach to decompose naturally. These photos were taken by Claire Campbell, a resident of Mtunzini. Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Marine Ecologist, Dr Jennifer Olbers says there are no obvious signs of injury but the cause of death still has to be determined. Mike Anderson-Reade of the KZN Sharks Board said reports on social media that the whale was attacked by sharks while giving birth are incorrect.

Strandings of whales and other animals are always cause for concern but the number of strandings in 2017 appear to be far less than 2016. According to the Zululand Observer, this is believed to be the second Humpback whale to have washed ashore this year compared to ten in 2016 – the highest number of whale strandings in the history of monitoring the east coast. Based on data provided by Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife, up to July 2017, seven other animals have washed up. These include two dolphins (one in Richards Bay and one in Clansthal Beach), one whale in Kosi Bay, and three turtles. In 2016 there were 74 strandings along the KZN coastline compared to 40 in 2015: SEE:…/whale-strandings-numbers-t…/ Also this CW post from August 2016: DEAD WHALES RAISE FEARS OF OIL EXPLORATION UNDERWATER BLASTS:

Strandings inevitably raise the issue of seismic surveying for oil and gas deposits, and most environmentalists believe this was implicated in the large number of strandings in 2016: “Despite requests by government departments and environmental groups to avoid undertaking surveys by petroleum companies during the turtle hatching season (December to end of March), Humpback Whale migration (June to November) and the sardine run (June to July), seismic surveys were undertaken off the KZN coastline from Durban to Richards Bay from 31 January to 24 July. Scientists have proven that seismic blasts can interrupt the communication, reproduction, navigation and eating habits essential to the survival of marine life, including whales, dolphins, turtles, fish and plankton.” – Dr Jennifer Olbers, Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife Marine Ecologist

Subsistence fishermen are also strongly objecting to the seven permits that have been granted to conduct seismic surveys along the KZN coast. They say the impact has the potential to destroy the livelihoods of 30 000 KZN fishermen, 12 000 of whom live in Durban:…/kzn-oil-exploration-fisherfolk-up-in-…

PLEASE SIGN OUR PETITION: Insist the DEA challenges seismic surveying of our coastline… See also, petition update: MINISTER RESPONDS ON SEISMIC SURVEYING…/u/21072886

ABOUT HUMPBACK WHALES: Found in oceans and seas around the world, humpback whales typically migrate up to 25 000 km each year. Humpbacks feed in polar waters, and migrate to tropical or subtropical waters during the winter months to breed and give birth when they fast and live off their fat reserves. Their diet consists mostly of krill and small fish. Like other large whales, the humpback was a target for the whaling industry. Once hunted to the brink of extinction, its population fell by an estimated 90% before a 1966 moratorium. In the case of humpback whales, populations have partially recovered and grown to around 80 000. Humans continue to be the leading cause of death for whales which die from entanglement in fishing gear, collisions with ships, plastic pollution, and human-caused noise including seismic surveying which has been implicated in marine mammal strandings worldwide. The human role in climate change also cannot be separated from strandings investigations.