Beached whales no cause for concern

Three strandings reported

06 October 2021 | Environment

Monique Radford; NDP; “Humpback whales are currently undertaking their annual migration.”

Walvis Bay • [email protected]



Three whales have stranded in the past two weeks.

Two humpback whales beached at Langstrand and in Henties Bay, while a rare southern right whale stranded in the vicinity of the salt pans on the outskirts of Swakopmund.

The southern right whale rarely travels along the Walvis Bay coastline, and is usually seen in the waters of Australia.

Thus far, seven humpback whales have stranded along the coast since their annual migration started in June.

One humpback was rescued and forced back into the sea by Namibia Dolphin Project (NDP) and Ocean Conservation Namibia volunteers.

NDP’s Monique Radford said there is no cause for concern with regard to the whale strandings.

“Humpback whales are currently undertaking their annual migration from their feeding grounds in the Southern Ocean, to their breeding grounds in Gabon. The migration season is from June to November. They use the coast of South Africa, Namibia and Angola (the west coast of Africa) as a migration corridor, passing along the coast, as they travel north to Gabon.”

Radford said that the whales are currently returning south, back to their feeding grounds.

“This why we are witnessing an increase in whale sightings, and strandings along our coast. Many of the whales we have investigated on the beach, tend to be young and a few have been emaciated/skinny, which can be an indication of a shortage of food.”

She added that as of yet, NDP has not seen any abnormal or unnatural signs, such as a ship strike on any of the beached whales.

“The global population of humpback whales indicates strong, healthy numbers, with an annual population increase of +-10%. Whale strandings/beachings are a natural process of life. We currently have no reason to be concerned about the beached whales along the Namibian coastline.”

Members of the public can report any whale, dolphin and turtle strandings to the NDP on 081 687 6461.

So far, the only indication of a ship strike being the cause of a whale stranding was in April 2021, when a rare Blue Whale beached near Langstrand

Unusual

The NDP experienced two unusual calls on Sunday, when a brown hyena was found in the garden of a resident at Mile 4 in Swakopmund.

A seal was also found hanging out in the garden of another residence in Swakopmund.

It was identified as a sub-adult cape fur male seal.

“We are not sure what's prompted the movement of the coastal fauna to residents’ gardens, but with a little time they should move back to their environment. It’s obviously always a good idea to give wildlife their space and not to approach such animals too closely. This fellow looks pretty chilled and as the day warmed up, should head back to sea on his own accord,” the NDP said in a Facebook post.

The seal eventually returned to the ocean, with no details available on the whereabouts the hyena.

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