Dead dol­phins in of­fi­cial ve­hi­cle

Cape Times - - NEWS - KAILENE PIL­LAY | kailene.pil­lay@inl.co.za

A VIDEO of about 15 dead dol­phins and sharks with “se­vere” rope in­juries, piled on the back of a KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board (KZNSB) Land Cruiser and trailer, has caused an uproar on so­cial me­dia, with an­i­mal lovers call­ing for the re­moval of shark nets along the coast­line.

A ma­rine-life lover, Shane Pike, cap­tured the video of the ve­hi­cle trav­el­ling be­tween Hig­gin­son High­way and Spaghetti Junc­tion on the N2 on Wed­nes­day.

Pike said he drove past the Land Cruiser but, af­ter see­ing a dol­phin’s tail “flap­ping around”, he slowed down to record the “hor­ri­ble sight”.

“When I slowed down to record it, I saw a dol­phin’s en­tire body as the shade cloth cov­er­ing it flew off,” Pike said.

“The dol­phins had many rope burns which are tes­ta­ment to the strug­gles they had in the nets. It’s so cruel and (they) try jus­ti­fy­ing it, say­ing they are de­signed only to catch sharks, yet so far we have seen dol­phins, tur­tles, baby whales, manta rays and a huge ar­ray of harm­less sharks be­ing caught.”

Co-ad­min­is­tra­tor of Salt Fish­ing SA Face­book page Cameron John­stone said Pike sent him the video and he posted it on so­cial me­dia to raise aware­ness about what was hap­pen­ing to ma­rine life along the Dur­ban coast.

The video was shared 249 times, with more than 100 com­ments con­demn­ing the act.

Head of op­er­a­tions at KZNSB Mike An­der­son Reade said 10 dol­phins and five sharks were be­ing trans­ported from the Mar­gate Base Sta­tion to KZNSB head­quar­ters in Umh­langa Rocks. Reade said the dol­phins were caught in the shark nets, from Fe­bru­ary to July, and were orig­i­nally stored in Umh­langa but, due to freezer re­fur­bish­ments, had been tem­po­rar­ily stored at the Mar­gate fa­cil­ity.

KZNSB se­nior sci­en­tist Sabine Wint­ner said the board rou­tinely stored “in­ci­den­tally caught” and stranded dol­phins to make them avail­able to re­searchers Dr Greg Hofmeyr, from the Port El­iz­a­beth Mu­seum, and Dr Stephanie Plön, from the Africa Earth Ob­ser­va­tory Net­work (Aeon) Earth Stew­ard­ship Sci­ence Re­search In­sti­tute, at the Nel­son Man­dela Uni­ver­sity.

How­ever, mam­mal lovers say the dis­sec­tion of the dol­phins and other mam­mals “have been done enough”.

John­stone said there was grow­ing pub­lic sup­port for the re­moval of shark nets.

He said nets were more de­struc­tive than a safety pre­cau­tion, as 42% of sharks caught in nets were mov­ing out to sea rather than to­wards the shore.

A screen grab from the video taken by Shane Pike shows one of the dol­phins be­ing trans­ported by the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board ear­lier this week.

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