PRESS RELEASE – REMOVAL OF STRANDED WHALE CARCASS – Issued 21 September 2020

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REMOVAL OF STRANDED WHALE CARCASS

On Friday 18 September 2020 the removal of the stranded whale carcass started. At approximately 08:30 the process was started with a site briefing led by Craig Viljoen from Incident Working Group Africa (IWGA). IWGA was appointed by Hessequa Municipality to coordinate and manage the removal process, including rehabilitation of the site and access road used.

IWGA in turn appointed DMO Blasting for the controlled dismantling of the carcass by means of explosives and LHM Distributors for the controlled dismantling by means of mechanical equipment.

Two pilot holes were cut into the whale behind and next to the head using a 4-blade spear. The cuts were made up to the area where the spine and the head ARE joined together. Explosives capsules were then placed inside the pilot holes. The blast was set off by the explosive applicator when all personnel on site was outside the impacting zone as determined by the applicator. An audible warning is given prior to blasting. The blasting was a huge success, and nobody was injured during this operation. The explosives unit of the South African Police Service (SAPS) and the Garden Route District Municipality’s Fire Department was also on site.

After the blasting of the carcass, the mechanical equipment was moved to the site. The carcass was removed from site by means of an excavator and truck. Due to the rocky terrain and condition of the carcass, this process had some challenges, but the contractor successfully removed the carcass. The carcass was disposed at the landfill site in Melkhoutfontein. The disposal was done in such a way that is does not pose a threat or health risk to the community of Melkhoutfontein.

The contractor has started with rehabilitation of site after the mechanical process was concluded. The process also involved the demarcation of sensitive areas on site and well as photographic record of the site before any work commenced. The area will be rehabilitated to the condition is was before the any work commenced. The process includes the planting of indigenous vegetation on a small section where the excavator accessed the site.

As at 21 September 2020, the impact zone is recovering well from a visual point of view. The fatty deposits are being reduced naturally on the rocky shores. The fat trail extends beyond the caravan park in Jongensfontein towards Stilbaai. The predicted surf conditions for the next couple of days should normalize by Wednesday, 23 September 2020. Beaches are currently closed and will remain closed until Wednesday, 23 September 2020. Shark activity should decrease by Wednesday and will it be safe for the public to enjoy swimming, however the public should still be vigilant as a whale carcass has been dismantled in the area.

The Hessequa Municipality would like to thank all the role-players involved in the process. It was indeed a collective effort. This process was well coordinated by IWGA.

ENDS

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