Research highlights dolphin preservation imperative

THE City of uMhlathuze, and Richards Bay in particular, has long suffered from the outside perception that it is a cesspool of industrial filth.

The dubious designation was entrenched in the minds of many during the boom years following the opening of the port 40 years ago, and its link to the huge, billowing industries it served.

An infamous ‘Bay of Pigs’ mainstream media article portrayed the town as the pollution headquarters of the nation.

In part, the appellation was correct and deserved.

There was no great emphasis in those days on pollution, and Environmental Impact Assessments – mandatory now – were seldom if ever a great consideration where job and wealth creation were paramount.

However, with the advent of green legislation and pollution watchdogs such as the Richards Bay

Clean Air Association, the situation changed drastically for the better.

While the industries are still in operation, current residents of the city enjoy a far healthier environment.

This includes the marine environment, accountable for much of the tourism and recreational opportunities here.

On this note, it was extremely pleasing in our last edition to record the start of a new study of our endangered Humpback Dolphins.

The general public is increasingly becoming aware of this rare jewel, with the dolphin viewing platform at Alkantstrand attracting ever more visitors.

Now, a new dimension has been added: the erection of a video camera and underwater microphone that is recording the movements and sounds of these beautiful creatures.

The real bonus is that the online streaming of the sightings can now be dome from one’s own home PC or mobile device.

And the viewers – anywhere in the world – can become ‘citizen scientists’ by sending their sightings to the relevant researchers.

But it’s about more than seeing these dolphins in their natural habitat.

The serious matter of dolphins being accidentally ensnared in shark nets, and what measures can be taken to prevent this without compromising bathers, is the purpose of the study.

We urge residents to participate in the research and the saving of this endangered species… as you have done with the rhino extinction threat.

Dave Savides

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