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Whale rescue at Independence Beach

Whale rescue at Independence Beach

Video: A large crowd assembled on Independence Beach in Walvis Bay to watch how a handful of volunteers attempted to rescue a humpback whale that got stranded earlier on Wednesday. Footage: Niël Terblanché

Niël Terblanché
A LARGE crowd gathered on Independence Beach while volunteers from amongst the residents of Walvis Bay spent most of the afternoon attempting to coax a young humpback whale back to the open ocean after it stranded itself in the shallow water earlier today.
Warm sunny weather brought on by east wind conditions and the school holidays enticed people to spend the day at Independence Beach and they spotted the whale as it came into shore. This meant that the rescue effort could start early before the whale was too badly injured or too exhausted to be pointed back to the open ocean.
Calls for assistance to get the young whale back to the open ocean, spread like wild fire through the harbour town and a large crowd of people from all walks of life soon gathered on the beach near the new oil terminal to see if the whale would return to where it came from.
The young men in the water succeeded in turning the whale’s head back to sea at least four or five times. They also managed to coax the huge animal to start swimming but it only turned back into the shore after about a hundred metres.
The stranding of the whale at Independence Beach follows about a year after another one of the animals was removed from the pylons under the Syncrolift in the Walvis Bay harbour.
The whale that stranded itself at Independence Beach is about ten metres long and is deemed to still be a juvenile animal.
Collisions with ships normally cause severe injuries to whales which cause them to enter areas which they would normally not frequent. When the animals are sick they also turn into shore to die on the beach.
The Namibian coast acts as a migration corridor for whales which migrate north in June to give birth to their calves off the coast of Northern Angola and Gabon and south again in September to their feeding grounds in the colder waters north off Antarctica.

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