MOSSEL BAY NEWS - No one is more pleased to have obtained a permit to move around freely under the level 4 lockdown regulations than the volunteers of the Stranded Marine Animal Rescue Team (S.M.A.R.T.).
The volunteers, since 26 March, when the national lockdown started at midnight, had not been allowed to see to marine emergencies.
According to a spokesperson, this was a particularly trying time, since this time of year many sea turtles wash ashore and are in need of rescue.
This week, however, S.M.A.R.T. obtained permits to continue its work in Wilderness and George, Great and Little Brak River, Hartenbos, Dias Beach, Santos, Mossel Bay, Dana Bay, Nautilus Bay and surrounding beaches, as well as Gouritsmond, the Mossel Bay port area and Seal Island.
"We are not yet back in full force, but we have volunteers working in all these areas.
"Only the Smarties who have had training in handling seals, dolphins, whales, sea turtles, sea birds and penguins qualify for permits, but we have also made arrangements for those volunteers who always avail themselves when there is a call-out," says Janine Pereira of S.M.A.R.T.
Perreira says volunteers will adhere to strict regulations when performing their rescue work.
"We are very grateful to be able to continue with our work. The fact that Covid-19 is here, does not mean that marine animals have stopped needing rescue. It was very difficult during lockdown to have to answer the S.M.A.R.T. emergency phone and tell people we are not allowed to help."
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