Whale warriors

BCM, museum quit trying to move whale carcass

LAST week Friday, BCM marine services, as well as a team from the East London Museum and Border Towing, attempted to winch the 18.4m sperm whale carcass that washed up off the Eastern Beach and tow it to the tip site near King William’s Town.

BIG BATTLE: East London Museum chief scientist Kevin Cole, right, and his team retrieve the lower jaw of the sperm whale carcass Picture: MADELEINE CHAPUT

Removing the estimated 40-ton carcass proved to be extremely difficult as a team of 20 men and a massive tow truck spent hours fighting the tide and the wind in an effort to remove the decomposing body from the surf.

“We would have preferred to let Mother Nature dispose of the carcass, but the management of the public is very difficult,” BCM’s chief of marine services Siani Tinley said.

“It is a huge health hazard to the public and this being an open public beach makes it very difficult to keep people away,” Tinley said.

By 4pm on Friday, the team halted all operations, leaving the scene after failing to bring the carcass out of the surf and onto the flat-bed tow truck for transportation.

East London Museum chief scientist Kevin Cole was, however, able to retrieve the animal’s lower jaw, as well as the white waxy oil substance produced by the sperm whale known as spermaceti in order to run various tests.

“Those were two of our main objectives, as well as removing the carcass from the surf line. The other was to investigate the whale’s stomach for any plastics, because lately that has been causing many problems within the sperm whale species among other marine mammals,” Cole said.

Under very difficult circumstances, Cole and his team were unable to investigate the whale’s stomach.

The carcass was left to float out behind the surf line and has since not been reported again.

The carcass is likely to sink to the sea bed as sharks feed on it.


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