Another dolphin dies in shark nets

THE death of yet another endangered Humpback dolphin entangled in shark nets at Richards Bay on Monday has once again brought into focus this controversial means of bather protection.

The Zululand Observer was coincidentally at Alkantstrand on Monday morning and witnessed a Sharks Board crew removing a large Humpback from the net at Newark Beach.

It was taken to the Sharks Board premises and transferred to a cold room for later transport to the Oceanographic Research Institute in Durban.

Indications were that the dolphin had been snared earlier that morning.

Although figures were not made available, it is understood a number of Humpbacks have met a similar fate over the past year.

‘We share the concern over the mortality rate,’ said Sharks Board HOD: Operations, Mike Anderson-Reade.

‘We have met with the City of uMhlathuze, for which we are a service provider, to discuss proposed changes to the shark net installation. Hopefully they will respond positively.

‘Quite simply, we need to not catch dolphins.’

ALSO READ: New Humpback Dolphin study launch in Richards Bay

He stressed that shark nets were not compulsory by law, and that the ultimate decision rested with the municipality, with whom they have a service level agreement.

Shanan Atkins, marine biologist at the Wits School of Animal, Plant and Environmental Science, currently engaged in Humpback dolphin research at Richards Bay, called for better understanding and co-operation in solving the shark net dilemma.

‘Shark nets are killing sharks and dolphins to protect bathers from shark attacks, which is quite an old-fashioned approach

‘It is tragic when such a magnificent creature like a dolphin dies.

‘We have inherited a difficult, controversial situation and we need to prevent these kinds of tragedies (dead dolphins, dead sharks) without causing other kinds of tragedies, like shark attacks.

‘It’s time for a new approach and we think that the way to start is to involve all the people who are interested in and affected by sharks and shark nets.

‘We want to gather all these parties to sit together, understand one another’s points-of-view and figure out some ideas that are worth testing here in Zululand,’ said Atkins.

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Dave Savides
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