- Posted May 30, 2009 by
Cape Town, South Africa
Volunteer Rescuers stay with whales at Kommetjie, Cape Town
Early this morning the first reports reached @CapeTown on #Twitter - and living in Kommetjie, I quickly established via followers that this tragedy is indeed TRUE: About 50 pilot whales stranded at local beach in Cape Town (close to Cape Point). When we got there, it was already swamped with people trying to help but the efforts seemed uncoordinated.
The helpers were asked what they needed most and they responded: Professional advice (and also helicopters and Mr. Opperheimer!) Twitter followers of @CapeTown did not fail, but came to the rescue with links to professionals, scientists and their telephone numbers. We spoke to these per phone from the beach and advice was passed on quickly. They were on the scene already, so it was a quick connect.
It was wonderful to see one whale rescued as a direct result of doing the right things. Pilot whales are small, so it is possible to help them, but a volunteer did get injured in the process. A group a dedicated Capetonians - some with and others without wetsuits helped this specific magnificent animal back to the waves... But others were not so lucky:
4.50pm South Africa Time - it appears that scientists had to make the call and most whales had to be shot to end their distress... no matter what, they kept returning to the beach. As many as 20 may have been saved, but it is difficult to determine, and some reports say that only 3 of the 55 plus actually made it back to sea after hundreds of volunteers tried to help...It has a heart-breaking scene and has been well documented by the Cape Town Twitter followers.
It was an experience I will never forget.