Imagine: It is a beautiful, sunny day and you decide to go for a stroll on the beach. The weather is perfect, the sand cool beneath your feet, the sun warming your skin, the sea air aroma surrounding you and happy thoughts filling your mind! What could be more perfect?
Walking along, you look up. What is that? It is definitely not a rock as it was not there yesterday! What IS it?Your pace picks up and you head straight for the unknown “object” on the sand.As you get closer, you notice with shock, dread and admiration that it is an animal resembling a dolphin! Questions flood your mind: “Is it alive?” “What is it doing on the beach?” “What kind of dolphin is this?” The all-important question is: “What should I do?”
At this point, we would hope that you have your cell phone handy, with the telephone number of a local stranding network saved. Before doing anything, please call your local stranding network and do not attempt to place the animal into the water.Please provide the following information:
1. Exact location.
2. Species, if possible or else dolphin, whale, turtle, seal, etc.
3. Is the animal dead or alive?
4. Approximate size of the animal.
5. Are there any visible injuries?
In the area between Gourits River Mouth and Wilderness, you can call S.M.A.R.T on 072 227 4715.The call operator will assist you and provide directions regarding what you should do.
When a live animal strands it is very important to deal with the situation appropriately. Until help arrives, it is vital to minimise any noise or stress to the animal, so keep people and dogs away.If you have towels with you or access to sheets, wet these and cover the animal, ensuring that the blowhole remains unobstructed and open. Also, ensure that no water is poured down the blowhole.The towels/sheets serves three functions – it protects the skin from sunburn and wind; you are able to keep the skin moist by ensuring that the towels/sheets are wet, and it reduces some of the stress that the animal experiences.Do not touch the animal unnecessarily and keep clear from the tail (fluke) and the blowhole.
Strandings occur mainly because of natural factors including age, diseases, complications with pregnancies and predation, or manmade factors including environmental degradation, overfishing, pollution, vessel collisions and bycatch.
Successful refloating of an animal is possible when done by trained responders, in the right conditions. Any attempts should only be carried out after the animal has been assessed by a veterinarian or by responders trained in cetacean health.Refloating an animal with external or internal injuries could result in a prolonged, possibly painful death at sea.