Wednesday, 22 January 2014
Sharks stranding in the lagoon
by Tess Gridley
Friday 17th January. Today we were alerted to the presence of several sharks at the Walvis Bay lagoon early in the morning. The first call was from Bex Russell, who saw a 1.7 meter bronze whaler shark (Carcharhinus brachyurus) stranded on the mudflats near Millionaire's mile. The animal was calm and sedate, probably suffering from lack of oxygen and exposure. It was refloated by Simon Elwen of the Namibian Dolphin Project and within a few minutes swam away into deeper water. Just over an hour later, there was a report of another shark stranded in a similar position. This animal was slightly smaller, and again calm and re-floated easily. Within the next hour, 2 more sharks (one more bronze whaler and one smooth hound shark) were found by local residents, all successfully re-floated and we are hopeful that they made it back out into open water.
We are not sure why they stranded, but it most likely due to the warm temperatures and a lack of oxygen in the water associated with the current sulphur bloom. While the sharks we have encountered so far are quite placid, bronze whaler sharks can and do bite and wild animals are unpredictable and potentially dangerous especially when stressed. Therefore we would encourage members of the public to phone the Namibian Dolphin Project on 081 421 4968 or the WB Strandings Network through: 081 602 1355 or 081 149 7377 for further assistance if they encounter any stranded sharks, or other creatures such as whales, dolphins or turtles.