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Sharks board slated for dead dolphins

Mercury logo Mercury 2018-10-12 Kailene Pillay
a close up of a truck: A screen grab from the video taken by Shane Pike shows one of the dolphins being transported by the KZN Sharks Board earlier this week. © Provided by Independent Media A screen grab from the video taken by Shane Pike shows one of the dolphins being transported by the KZN Sharks Board earlier this week.

Durban - About 15 dead dolphins and sharks with “severe” rope injuries piled on the back of a KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board (KZNSB) Land Cruiser and trailer on the N2 on Wednesday has caused an uproar on social media, with animal lovers calling for the removal of shark nets along the coastline.

A marine-life lover, Shane Pike, captured the video of the vehicle travelling between Higginson Highway and Spaghetti Junction.

Pike said he drove passed the Land Cruiser but after seeing a dolphin’s tail “flapping around” he slowed down to record the “horrible sight”.

“I could see the tail sticking out and it had some rope around it. When I slowed down to record it, I saw a dolphin’s entire body as the shade cloth covering it flew off,” Pike said.

He said the dolphin carcasses were covered with wounds from a rope.

“The dolphins had many rope burns which are testament to the struggles they had in the nets. It’s so cruel and (they) try justify saying they are designed only to catch sharks, yet so far we have seen dolphins, turtles, baby whales, manta rays and a huge array of harmless sharks being caught.”

Co-administrator of Salt Fishing SA Facebook page Cameron Johnstone said Pike sent him the video and he posted it on social media to raise awareness about what was happening to marine life along the KZN coast.

The video was shared 249 times with more than 100 comments from people condemning the act.

Head of operations at KZNSB Mike Anderson Reade said 10 dolphins and five sharks were being transported from the Margate Base Station to KZNSB headquarters in uMhlanga Rocks.

Reade said the dolphins were caught in the shark nets over February to July 2018, and were originally stored in Umhlanga but because of freezer refurbishments had been temporarily stored at the Margate facility.

A statement issued by KZNSB senior scientist Sabine Wintner said the board routinely stored “incidentally caught” and stranded dolphins to make them available to researchers Dr Greg Hofmeyr, from the Port Elizabeth Museum, and Dr Stephanie Plö* , from the AEON (Africa Earth Observatory Network) Earth Stewardship Science Research Institute, at the Nelson Mandela University.

“Dolphin catches in shark nets have steadily declined since the 1980s due to better management of shark safety gear by the KZNSB, but an average of 15 dolphins is still caught annually. Although bycatch of dolphins in the shark nets is tragic and by no means being condoned, research assists in gathering more important information on these animals,” Wintner said.

However, mammal lovers say the dissection of the dolphins and other mammals “have been done enough”.

Johnstone said there was growing public support for the removal of shark nets. He said nets were more destructive than a safety precaution as 42% of sharks caught in nets were moving out to sea rather than towards the shore.

Professional diver Walter Bernadis from African Watersports also called for the shark nets to be taken down. He said the KZNSB should rather invest in looking at more eco-friendly methods to keep marine life and bathers safe.

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