Two stranded whales rescued from Cape Town beach Special

Posted Jun 3, 2010 by Christopher Szabo
Two whales have been rescued from Muizenberg beach in Cape Town by civil society groups and local authorities after the animals threw themselves on the shore and remained stranded.
The National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI), Marine and Coastal Management (MCM), the South African Police Services (SAPS), Disaster Management and Cape Town Traffic services joined in the effort.
A press release from the NSRI said the two whales where female Pigmy Sperm Whales, and were beached about 50 metres apart.
Mike Meyer, a marine scientist, assessed the whales and advised they should be returned to deep water as soon as possible.
The whales were placed on “whale stretchers,” then loaded on NSRI rescue trucks and driven to Simon’s Town harbour, with the Cape Town Traffic Services as escort. The rescuers kept noise to a minimum to keep the whales as calm as possible and the whales where kept wet using wet ambulance blankets.
NSRI spokesman Craig Lambinon told Digital Journal the “whale stretchers” where specially designed for them. It is:
A mock stretcher. A tarpaulin and two poles. The poles are adjustable, (you can add) adjunct poles.
He said the “whale stretchers” worked out well:
This time it was perfect, the whales were 2.8 metres and 1.6 metres long and it was just right.
NSRI used two of its craft, Spirit of Safmarine III and Eddie Beaumont II, while a private person, Chris Fallows of Apex Shark Expeditions, volunteered his boat White Pointer II.
The whales were loaded onto White Pointer II and escorted out to sea by the NSRI. When they were two nautical miles out, the rescuers cut all engines to allow the whales to communicate with each other.
During their release, rescue swimmers went into the water to assist. The press release said: “It appears that both whales swam away comfortably and it was confirmed that they remained together.”
When I spoke to Lambinon at noon local time, he said no reports had come in of the whales re-beaching themselves.
It is not known why the whales beached.