Seis­mic ac­tiv­ity could be cause of beach­ings


SEIS­MIC sur­veys off the coast of KwaZulu-Na­tal could be one of the key rea­sons for the num­ber of sea mam­mals found stranded along the shore in the past few months.

Dr Jen­nifer Ol­bers, a marine ecol­o­gist at Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife’s Sci­en­tific Ser­vices, said seis­mic sur­veys have led to strand­ings and other neg­a­tive ef­fects on marine an­i­mals around the world.

She said sur­veys car­ried out along the KZN coast in 2016 recorded the high­est num­ber of beach­ings.

How­ever, there was no ev­i­dence to prove that the strand­ings were caused by gas ex­plo­ration.

“In KZN we do not have the equip­ment to un­der­take post-mortems on cetaceans to test for acous­tic trauma caused by sound,” she said.

On av­er­age, seven dol­phins, seven whales, 11 tur­tles and seven seals are stranded ev­ery year.

“These an­i­mals need to be as­sessed so the best ac­tion can be taken for the an­i­mal. Some­times they are left to rest or re­moved for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion and med­i­cal care.”

Ol­bers re­gards noise in the sea as a ma­jor con­cern.

Dr Caryl Knox, a vet­eri­nar­ian at uShaka Marine World, said her find­ings con­cluded some had died from nat­u­ral fac­tors. “In May a post­mortem on a dol­phin found it had a bro­ken rib and bleed­ing in the lungs. This could have been caused by be­ing bumped by a mate be­cause dol­phins can be ag­gres­sive.”

“On Mon­day I com­pleted an au­topsy of the dol­phin that was found on Brighton Beach. It was an el­derly male and showed signs of old age and a lung in­fec­tion,” Knox said.


A male dol­phin died on Brighton Beach over the week­end. A vet at uShaka Marine World said it had died of nat­u­ral causes.

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