| Get surf report

whale-1200-th

Tue, 30 April 2019

Cape Town beach-goers have been confronted with an unusual sight lately: whale sharks washed ashore around the Cape Peninsula, writes Tatjana Baleta. Photos Maryke Musson.


Whale-shark-at-Kom

LONG DAY: This exhausted juvenile whale shark could not be saved at Kommetjie. Photo Supplied


Whale-shark-at-Camps-BayThe juvenile whale sharks were found at Kommetjie’s Long beach and at popular Camps Bay beach (right).

With the two found up the West Coast, a total of four whale sharks have beached in the Western Cape during the last month. Sadly, none survived.

Whale sharks are the largest living fish species and can grow to over 10m in length. The animals washed ashore in Cape Town were juveniles of five metres. These gentle giants are harmless filter feeders, sifting plankton and small fish from the water.

Whale sharks inhabit warm temperate and tropical waters and, while they can be found on the northern East Coast of South Africa towards Mozambique, it is highly irregular to find them in cold waters such as those of the Cape Peninsula.

Feeding-turtle-at-Two-Oceans

SUPPER TIME: Feeding a baby turtle that was washed up near Cape Town. Photo Maryke Musson


Maryke Musson, curator at the Two Oceans Aquarium, explained that when whale sharks travel down the East Coast’s Agulhas Current, they can be thrown out of the conveyor belt of warm water by rough seas and strong winds, which is typical weather at this time of year as winter approaches and the southern storms start moving north.

Disoriented and weakened by cold temperatures, they don’t have the strength to make it back to warmer water, and eventually wash ashore.

This happens to other warm water dwelling sea creatures too, according to Musson. She describes the period from March to July / August as “turtle wash-up season”. Every year during this time, young turtle hatchlings “pop” out of the warm current and are pushed to shore by rough weather, where they wash up, cold and dehydrated.

Two-Oceans-turtle-II

LITTLE BIG GUY: It's all about the stats. A baby turtle's width is carefully measured. Photo Supplied


But there is hope. The Two Ocean’s Aquarium takes in the hatchlings for gradual rewarming and rehabilitation, with an 80% successful release rate. At the time of writing, they currently have 25 turtles under their care.

So if you come across a baby turtle stranded on the beach, don’t throw them back in the water, she says. Place the turtle on a warm, dry cloth in a large tupperware, keep it out of wind and sun and contact the Two Oceans Aquarium. Unfortunately for the whale sharks, by the time they wash ashore it’s too late.

What-to-do-if-you-find-a-turtle

Add comment

Please don't say anything you would not say to a real person, and please use your real name.


Security code
Refresh

Joomla SEF URLs by Artio

Wavescape on Twitter

Wavescape
Fri May 24 15:33:51 +0000 2019

KZN Far North Coast -- {loadposition wowadverts}Might be fun Saturday early with clean offshore 3-4' southerly peak… https://t.co/q33gFxvkIh
Wavescape
Fri May 24 15:26:01 +0000 2019

Durban and surrounds -- {loadposition wowadverts}After fun small surf Friday, Saturday also looks lekker clean earl… https://t.co/d6oNLVVsPc
Wavescape
Fri May 24 15:17:51 +0000 2019

KZN South Coast -- {loadposition wowadverts}There were good waves Friday, and possibly okay waves early Saturday wi… https://t.co/0iuGEoXDSC
Wavescape
Fri May 24 15:01:25 +0000 2019

Wild Coast -- {loadposition wowadverts}There were good waves Friday, and same for early Saturday with 4' waves in c… https://t.co/KEvKQY6FmF
Wavescape
Fri May 24 14:46:51 +0000 2019

Eastern Cape East -- {loadposition wowadverts}After cranking waves Friday, Saturday dawns with a building onshore d… https://t.co/r4h4e0Wjv7
Wavescape
Fri May 24 12:31:15 +0000 2019

Pull in next Wednesay in Cape Town to meet the Azulay brothers at the African premiere of their new film, Transcend… https://t.co/QujHw34eLp
Follow Wavescape on Twitter

Wavescape friends and partners Isiqalo Foundation DIFF CSIR Isiqalo Foundation Surfing  South Africa Save Our Seas Shark Centre Isiqalo Foundation Red Bull Media House DIFF National Sea Rescue Institute Shark Spotters ASP Africa