An 11-metre humpback whale was spotted swimming up and down behind the backline of the Jeffreys Bay Beach on Monday morning. Shortly after, the animal got stranded on the beach. Unable to take the animal offshore, the authorities decided to bomb the stranded whale on Tuesday.
The decision came as “the most humane alternative”, a whale specialist, Dr Stephanie Plön, stated. She told the media that the decision had not been taken lightly.
“The whale was about 11m [in length] and, when an animal is that big, refloating it is not an option,” the Nelson Mandela University marine biologist and Coastal Stranding Network member explained. “It could also not be left lying on its belly in the sand, where it would have slowly suffocated to death. There were also no visible injuries, or fishing net or cable entanglements. The size of the animal became a real problem.”
According to Plön, the humpback whale had been initially spotted behind the backline off Kabeljauws Beach on Monday and it got stranded at about 5pm.
Plön consulted further with a veterinary surgeon and with the department of environmental affairs as per protocol. And after a while, the decision had been made. It was decided to euthanise the whale despite the fact it was still alive.
A charge had been placed on the whale’s head “to ensure the explosion would directly penetrate its brain”. The huge animal died right away.