Two humpback whales, a calf and an adult, were found after being washed ashore on the north coast of KwaZulu-Natal over the weekend.
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The first, a juvenile measuring 4.42 metres in length, was found in Richards Bay on Saturday morning.
KwaZulu-Natal Ezemvelo Wildlife authorities arrived too late to rescue the calf, believed to have been between two or three months old.
Officials said the cause of death appeared to be natural.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, an adult humpback measuring 13 metres in length was found on the beach just north of Cape Vidal resort in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park.
According to iSimangaliso’s Mike Bouwer, who inspected the carcass on Sunday, the animal had visible bite marks along its body, suspected to have been inflicted by sharks.
The whale also had pieces of flotsam including plastic or netting stuck in its jaws.
“The beaching of the whale carcass is assumed to be a natural event,” said iSimangaliso spokesperson Terri Castis.
“We will attempt to move it further up the beach on Tuesday using heavy plant equipment in order to avoid any unpleasant consequences of the decomposition of the body,” Castis said.
Adult humpback whales may reach 16 metres in length and weigh in excess of 30 tonnes.
In a statement issued by iSimangaliso, the park said that between June and November, the humpback and other whales transit the park’s marine protected area, as they move northward from the
Antarctic, only returning south after several months.
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During this time, they can be seen regularly breaching close to shore.
It is also calving season for whales, making this the best time of year to spot the giant marine mammals with their young.
– African News Agency (ANA)