Ricochet News

Beached dolphin 'humanely' euthanised in Jeffreys Bay

Jan 9, 2017
Beached dolphin 'humanely' euthanised in Jeffreys Bay

While one beached dolphin was returned to the sea by bystanders in Jeffreys Bay over the weekend, another one that had been severely injured dolphin had to be humanely euthanised.

According to Ernie Schmidt, National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Jeffreys Bay deputy station commander, said; "We dealt with two dolphin stranding incidents in Jeffreys Bay today (Sunday).

"The first call came at about 07h50 this morning, Saturday, 07 January, reporting a baby dolphin stranded at Main Beach Jeffreys Bay.  The call was initiated by Paul Makupula, from Jeffreys Bay Lifeguards."

He said that, together with his wife, Elaine, who is also an NSRI crew member, responded to the scene.

"Elaine had recently done the Marine Animal Stranding Network course presented by Bay World in Port Elizabeth in conjunction with The Department of Environmental Affairs – Oceans and Coasts.

"Unfortunately, when we arrived on the scene it was found that the dolphin had been put back into the sea several times, but it kept beaching," described Schmidt.  

"By the time, we arrived it did not beach again.  It appears that it was a juvenile Bottlenose dolphin. We stayed in the area for some 90 minutes in case there was another beaching. 

"On leaving, we briefed the lifeguards not to try to put the dolphins back in the water, but to rather call the NSRI to activate the Stranding Network who will deal with strandings in the appropriate manner."

Then at about 15h46, a call was received from the lifeguard, Tim Baard, at Kabeljous Beach, came through. 

"They reported a fairly large dolphin stranded, and that the dolphin had fairly severe wounds on its side and back behind the dorsal fin. Myself and my wife, Elaine, arrived on the scene, and we organised the lifeguards and some members of the public to assist us to deal with the animal ensuring that it suffered as little stress as possible while decisions were being made about the fate of the severely wounded animal," said Schmidt.

"NSRI’s Michael van den Bergh was summoned to bring our NSRI Rescue Mobile to the beach.  The dolphin was an adult, male, Striped Dolphin, reportedly a species very rarely seen in the area.

"Dr Greg Hoffmeyer, of Bayworld, was contacted by Malcolm Logan who assists him in the Jeffreys Bay area.  Dr Hoffmeyer immediately organised a Veterinary Surgeon from the local Oribi Animal Hospital, Dr. Kathy Bezuidenhout, to examine the animal.  He also contacted Mike Meyer of the Department of Environmental Affairs – Oceans and Coasts to get approval and to advise on action in cooperation with the vet."

After examination by the vet it was decided that the wounds were too severe for it to live if it were put back into the sea.

"We arranged to take the animal to the Animal Hospital. Since we could not get the animal into the back of the NSRI Rescue Mobile, a member of the public with a pickup truck assisted us," said Schmidt. 

"Mr Pierre Hertzog, from Bloemfontein, and his two sons Hans and Dirk agreed to help (The Hertzog family happen to also be involved with the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI) for whom they at times assist with the tagging of sharks).

"The dolphin was loaded into a Stokes basket stretcher and transported off the beach to the pickup truck and then transported with a team of carers on the pick-up truck to the Animal Hospital where sadly, after all attempts to save the dolphin were exhausted the dolphin was humanely euthanised by Vets.

"Everyone who assisted is commended in this incident."

The NSRI has urged the public to call NSRI in cases of Marine Animal strandings so that the Marine Animal Stranding Network can be activated.