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Clifton beaches open to the public again after humpback whale carcass washed ashore

Published Jan 5, 2022

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Cape Town - Thanks to the assistance of SANParks, and several City of Cape Town directorates, the Clifton beach area was reopened on Tuesday afternoon after a whale carcass washed ashore earlier in the day.

The City had initially advised visitors to the area to stay out of the ocean as a precautionary measure while it removed the carcass.

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The City’s head of coastal policy development and management programmes Darryl Colenbrander said the City was informed that a humpback whale carcass approximately nine-metres long had washed ashore in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The National Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment was notified and it collected samples and measurements for scientific analysis.

Colenbrander said although the cause of death was uncertain, it was likely to be natural. It was the third to wash ashore in the past three months.

“A large pod of humpbacks have been visiting the Atlantic Seaboard. On December 9, an 8m carcass washed ashore at Sea Point, and at Melkbosstrand, a 9m female humpback whale washed ashore on October 18,” said Colenbrander.

Previously, Sea Search Research and Conservation co-director Simon Elwen said that the high numbers of whales off the coast were a real concern in terms of potential impacts with ships and crayfish traps.

“Where natural death occurs, the cause of death is quite difficult to establish without an in-depth pathological investigation, although they often have high parasite loads. Sickness and starvation are likely to be the underlying causes,” said Elwen.

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City deputy mayor and Mayco member for spatial planning and environment, Eddie Andrews, said that given the topography of the beach, it was difficult to remove the carcass with machinery from there.

“The carcass was removed with the help of a large vessel at high tide. It was towed off the beach to the Oceana Power Boat Club where it was loaded and transported to the Vissershok landfill,” he said.

Later in the day, the City had advised that the Clifton beaches were opened after the carcass had been removed by 3.30pm on Tuesday afternoon.

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“All of the beaches at Clifton are now open again to the public and for bathing.

“The City wants to thank the public for their cooperation and support during this operation,” Andrews said.

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