The rehabilitation of stranded marine animals is a secondary activity of Bayworld for which no subsidies are received. Rehabilitation is only undertaken with due consideration for the resident animals, routine public programmes and conditions of permits. Limited facilities and staff capacity are available for the care and holding of stranded animals.
What to do if you find a marine bird stranded on the beach:
- Call Bayworld on 082 678 7791 or on the landline telephone number on 041 584 0650.
- By prior arrangement and if possible, captured birds should be place in a well ventilated cardboard box and delivered to Bayworld during office hours.
Not all birds found on the coast are in need of assistance. Penguins come ashore to moult and at these times they need to be out of the water as their waterproofing is compromised. Penguins in moult do not need any assistance, but rather need to be left alone and not disturbed. Gulls, oystercatchers, cormorants, terns and waders are naturally found on the coastline and care should, therefore, be taken before rushing to catch these birds. Generally, when you find albatrosses, petrels, shearwaters, gannets and pelicans along the coast, you can be sure they need help. When attempting to rescue marine birds, please remember:
- Do not attempt to feed the birds.
- Keep noise to a minimum.
- Do not wet them or place them in water.
- Be careful of the beak. Even sick birds bite.
- Hold the bird firmly behind the head with one hand and support the body with the other.
- Do not cuddle birds or stroke them.
- When transporting birds, avoid placing more than one bird in a box.
- Captured birds should be kept in a quiet area.
- The vehicle and transport containers should be well ventilated.
- Do not transport birds with domestic pets.
- Avoid prolonged transport.
- If possible, avoid transporting in the heat of the day.
What to do if you find a marine turtle stranded on the beach:
Call Bayworld on 072 226 6964 or on the landline telephone number on 041 584 0650.
Marine turtles requiring rescue are most frequently encountered either beached or floating in a weakened state on the surface of the water. Turtles requiring rescue may show varying degrees of weakness.
- Loud noises, bright lights and abrupt movement should be avoided.
- Small turtles (less than 10kg) generally present few problems for a single person to lift. Larger animals may require more people.
- They are not generally aggressive. However, they are capable of inflicting a severe bite. Rough edges of scales and scutes or barnacles can cause deep scratches. Care should be taken when carrying these animals.
- Never turn turtles on their backs.
- When transporting turtles, place larger animals on a wet sponge or tube covered with wet towels. Smaller turtles can be kept on a wet cloth in a small container, preferably with a damp cloth on their back. Always ensure the turtle is capable of lifting its head to breath, otherwise it might drown.
- Prevent overheating during transport and make sure there is sufficient airflow during the journey.
What to do if you find a marine mammal stranded on the beach:
- Call your local stranding network . In the Eastern Cape - Bayworld on 071 724 2122(dolphins, whales & seals) or +27 (0) 41 584 0650 or the SAPS on 10111.
- Do not return the animal to sea. They are there for a reason - usually sick or injured.
- Keep people and pets away from the animal . Only one or two people are needed until expert help arrives.
In the case of a seal:
A seal on the beach may not necessarily require assistance and may only be resting. Rather keep your distance from the animal as it may be aggressive and may inflict a nasty bite, even if it is asleep of injured. If first aid is considered necessary, the following should be kept in mind:
- Do not try and keep the animal warm by covering it with towels.
- If the animal has been exposed to excessive sun for several days, try and wet the animal with water, especially in the areas of the flippers.
- Do not try and feed the animal.
- Do not take the animal home. Young seal pups appear cute and cuddly. However, you will do the animal more harm than good in trying to comfort it.
- If possible, maintain visual contact until help arrives
In the case of dolphins and whales:
- Relieve pressure on fins by digging holes under them. To relieve pressure on lungs you can dig a pit under the animal and fill the pit with water.
- Keep the animal cool and wet by splashing water on the skin. Avoid getting water in the blowhole.
- Apply wet towels or T-shirts and provide shade if possible using tarps or towels. Keep the blowhole free of obstruction and take care not to cover the dorsal fin, flippers or tail.
- Apply sunscreens or zinc oxide , NOT suntan oil. A dolphin's skin is very sensitive and can burn severely.
- Apply ice packs to the dorsal fin, pectoral flippers and flukes to keep the animal from overheating, but do not let the ice come into direct contact with the skin.
- If the animal is in the surf, support it in an upright position. Keep water out of the blowhole. If possible, carefully move a mammal into shallow water, but keep it in the water.
- Be careful around the powerful tail of dolphins and whales.
Following these tips can keep the animal alive and reduce its stress until help arrives. The response team will take charge of feeding and nursing the mammal back to health, if possible.
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