“One part that really just shattered my heart was seeing an older whale come up to say goodbye to the baby. I’m not sure whether it was the whale’s mum or relative, but these animals have feelings. I can just imagine their cries and screams as they slowly drown in those nets… What an agonising way to die,” said a concerned local, Emma Raisun.
The increasing occurrence of whale deaths as a result of octopus net entanglement has not only caused backlash among whale-watchers, but also uproar among concerned citizens. Raisun, who witnessed the carcass floating in the waters of False Bay, said the regularity of whale deaths caused by octopus nets is alarming.
“A message was sent to a whale-watching group I belong to, and one of the members took her boat out to check the carcass out on Wednesday afternoon,” she said. ” The carcass was left overnight before the City of Cape Town came to collect it.”
According to Raisun, another Bryde’s whale was also found in the area approximately three weeks ago.
“All whales are in danger of the octopus nets, but Bryde’s whales usually stay in the water here – they do not migrate – so they may be at a slightly higher risk,” she said.
Raisun mentioned the sadness her son experienced when he saw the whale carcass. “It’s heartbreaking to see. I cannot describe the absolute sadness that comes with seeing that poor baby creature just laying there.”
She took her son to the young whale’s carcass to pray for it, and when asked why she did this said, “I was praying to say sorry. I was praying to apologise for what we as humans have done to this innocent creature. Whales are curious, and will investigate when they see things in water, thats how they get tangled in these nets. Those nets are abominable.”
The situation has become so dire that change.org has started a petition to place a ban on octopus traps to help stop whales from dying from entanglement.
“These traps, with long ropes tied to buoys that float on the surface, are a danger not only to whales and dolphins but they also pose a huge risk to boats and ships. False Bay is the home to the South African Navy and in the past they traps allegedly had sonar reflectors and lights on them – this is no longer the case. There is no visible warning on any of the traps in the bay and poses a big risk to the military and recreational boat user,” the change.org petition reads.
Picture: Emma Raisun