MOSSEL BAY NEWS - Those in marine conservation share a sense of relief as the local marine strandings network this week had an informative session for the first time since the national state of disaster was declared.
Several locals working in marine conservation found the lockdown frustrating since they could not do what they were passionate about - being outdoors tending to stranded animals.
On Tuesday, 25 August, local roleplayers congregated at the Dias Museum's Granary to discuss the marine strandings protocol.
Several others joined the meeting online and of particular value was the input of experts. These included Mdu Seakamela, marine mammal scientist at the Department of Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF), who joined from Cape Town, Meredith Thornton, national marine strandings network coordinator joining online from Overberg and Dr Greg Hofmeyr, marine mammal biologist, contributing online from Port Elizabeth.
DEFF is the umbrella department for a number of marine stranding networks along the coastline of South Africa and sees to it that local networks are empowered and hands on.
Local representatives at Tuesday's meeting included the Mossel Bay Municipality, the Stranded Marine Animal Rescue Team (S.M.A.R.T.), staff of the Dias Museum, CapeNature, the South African Police Service, the Seabird and Penguin Rehabilitation Centre (SAPREC), Oceans Research Institute, veterinarian Dr Frans de Graaff, the Strandloper Project and Craig Viljoen, who also assists in the removal of carcasses. SANParks joined online.
Apart from challenges discussed, the most important take home message was once again the importance of collaboration in a coordinated effort by all parties when it comes to dealing with stranded animals.
"The Mossel Bay strandings group meeting was inspiring. I truly wish that every volunteer working in this field could have attended to hear what the experts had to say," said Val Marsh, who volunteers at S.M.A.R.T.
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