The Stranded Marine Animal Rescue Team – S.M.A.R.T, was established in 2015 after the unfortunate stranding of a humpback whale at Suiderkruis. The need for a stranding network that could handle all types of marine strandings in the greater Mossel Bay area, was investigated and well known veterinarian Dr Frans De Graaff, Councillor Anton Dellemijn and freelance journalist/photographer Tersia Marais formed the organisation.
Volunteer based S.M.A.R.T, operates under the authority of the Department of Environmental Affairs and is an agent for Bayworld in Port Elizabeth. Collaboration between the Mossel Bay Municipality, NSRI, SAPREC, Dias Museum, Border Police, Cape Nature, Sanparks, Governmental departments DEA and DAFF and all the local Conservancies,is essential. Regular training on various aspects of dealing with stranded animals is of ongoing importance. Every person that lives along the shores of the area should and can become a “Smartie”, as the volunteers are called! S.M.A.R.T is a registered non-profit organisation that relies on the donations and kind hearts of the residents and business owners of the area.
The stranding of large cetaceans (whales and dolphins) might become more often as climate change and pollution affects the ocean. Sea turtle hatchlings on our local beaches, have become a regular sight the last few years. Seabirds suffer from Avian Influenza and literally die in their hundreds. Uncommon seal species such as elephant seal and subantartic fur seals, have found their way onto our beaches. Never before have we heard about nurdles – now they are lying on all the beaches along with other microplastics. Everybody should be made aware of and become actively involved in protecting the shorelines, ocean and all living creatures in it.
For more information about S.M.A.R.T,please visit the Facebook page facebook.com/SMARTMosselbay.
To report all marine strandings or to become part of the volunteer group, contact Tersia at 072 227 4715.