Most of the more than 40 people that attended the workshop were volunteers of SMART (Stranded Marine Animal Rescue Team), members of DAFF (Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries), the SAPD, NSRI, SPCA, Fire and Rescue Services and the Dias Museum.
MOSSEL BAY NEWS - The establishment of the South African Stranding Network (SASN) by the Department of Environmental Affairs - DEA) was galvanised by a sizable mass stranding of false killer whales at Long beach, Kommetjie in 2009, where the need for well-trained personnel and specialised equipment available at short notice was highlighted.
The DEA, together with the department's stakeholders, designed a National Response Plan which has been presented and approved by the SA Top Predator Working Group.
The Response Plan is aimed at guiding stranding responses by the South African Stranding Network (SASN) personnel and other stakeholders prior to and during cetacean stranding's, in line with National Policy.
Species such as the false killer whale, pilot whale, sperm whale and Risso's dolphin are among the cetaceans most commonly involved in mass stranding events worldwide. These cetaceans have in common that they are predominantly open-ocean dwellers and are highly gregarious.
Therefore their tendency to mass strand has generally been attributed to their strong social bonds and their unfamiliarity with coastal environments when they occasionally venture inshore.
The DEA (represented by the very knowledgeable and experienced Mike Meyer, Deon Kotze and Steven McCue) held a stranding training workshop on Friday, 2 December in Mossel Bay on Santos beach. This workshop was similar to the workshops held recently at Strandfontein in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth.
The extremely informative and inspirational whale stranding training workshop in Mossel Bay was a practical session and involved practical beach work.
Most of the more than 40 people that attended the workshop, were volunteers of SMART (Stranded Marine Animal Rescue Team), members of DAFF (Department of Agriculture and Fisheries), the SAPD, NSRI, SPCA, Fire and Rescue services and Dias Museum. The prospect of follow-up workshops in Mossel Bay is already being discussed.
An urgent appeal to members of the public is made to please report any stranded marine animal (whales, dolphins, sea turtles and seals) immediately to the SMART emergency number, 076 780 8237.
The very practical workshop gave the opportunity to members of SMART, NSRI, SAPD, SPCA, DAFF and Fire and Rescue Services to participate "hands-on" during the training at Santos Beach .
Heavy equipment is used to lift and move cetaceans that are stranded on beaches and participants in the workshop had the opportunity to learn how this is done.
Photos: Mariska Visagie
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