Three deaths have been blamed on the ship which became stranded on Wednesday in South Africa’s Cape Flats
Video shows lifeless body of dead whale on concrete-shored vessel
Witnesses captured the scene on cellphone cameras as the lifeless body of a whale became lodged on the steel hull of a ship in South Africa’s Cape Flats.
The ship became stranded on Wednesday and the possibility of re-floating it was under discussion.
The corpse of a sperm whale protruded from the tanker’s hull. Photograph: Zack Dongaris / EPA
Zack Dongaris, an amateur photographer in his car less than 400 metres from the scene, said: “I came upon this horrific scene on Tuesday night when I heard distressed voices from within the vessels.
Photograph: ZACK DONGARIS/AFP/Getty Images
“It was truly heartbreaking to see such a large animal rendered to helpless, stricken and distressed in such a small space and near residential areas.”
A whale carcass hangs from the stern of a tanker vessel in Capetown. Photograph: Isaac Brekken/AFP/Getty Images
Marianne Rennick, a doctor who was filming the scene from the beach near the Cape station of Sea Shepherd Cape, said she and her husband “ran out to see how we could help”.
She photographed one of the whales, or even the rear-end of a whale. But by the time they reached the spot, the line had snapped and she had to walk slowly toward the ship where the whale remained on the bridge.
“My husband quickly communicated that he would make the sign of a dolphin and wave a stethoscope,” she said. “I would get a strong signal from the whale and for a brief moment, it was the sight of an abundance.”
She said the whale stopped breathing in several places and that after a few hours, its remains were pumped with salt water to dissolve the tissue, which was due to freeze if left.
A few hours later, the animal had become a mother.
Rennick, who has volunteered with Sea Shepherd for 22 years, said: “It is never easy to witness the demise of an animal in such a way. The whale seemed in reasonably good health. It was not entangled in any rope and was not lifeless when we saw it, despite its severe injuries. We had hoped it could be hauled aboard or deflated, but in the end, a humane end was the only way to proceed.”
On Wednesday Sea Shepherd criticised South African officials for leaving a plant for whale culling in service, despite protests from animal rights activists.