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. 

Thursday 16 January 2014

Opportunity - Volunteer office manager and admin assistant needed

We are currently seeking an independent, outgoing and trustworthy volunteer to manage the Namibian Dolphin Project office while the team undertakes fieldwork in L├╝deritz . We are seeking someone from March to May, which will include one month working with us in Walvis Bay and 2 months working independently as the responsible office manager. Core working hours are 7:30-1pm.

The role will include: 
* Engaging with the public
* Administration
* Desk top research work on dolphins, for example photo-identification, data organisation
* Production of education and outreach materials relating to marine life
* Fundraising

During April-May you will be expected to represent the Namibian Dolphin Project in Walvis Bay and attend to strandings and public concerns, as and when they arise.

This volunteer position is well suited to someone with an interest in the environment who can work independently. It would suit a post graduate seeking extra work experience or (as the hours are mainly in the morning) a scientist looking for a quite place to gain inspiration while writing papers/grant applications etc. If interested, please contact Dr Tess Gridley on: For more information about the project please refer to the or blog. 

Additional bonuses:
- Sea view from your desk
- A Ramsar protected wetland on your doorstep means flamingos, pelicans, ruddy turnstones, whimbrels, curlews, chestnut banded plovers etc etc pass the office everyday
- Bottlenose dolphins swim past the office regularly
- A very nice restaurant next door!

Our Office:

Friday 3 January 2014

Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) stranding near Swakopmund

By Henri Raaitjies - Sept 2013

Reported on Sunday October 27 by Francois Busch as a possible stranded, the stranding team headed out to inspect the turtle. The animal was at first sight an old individual covered in lots of seaweed growth, but still alive. It didn’t respond much and didn’t appear capable to return to sea on its own strength. The turtle was measured and a skin sample was taken.

The sex of sea turtles can be determined by the tail length. Females have short tails, while male turtles have a larger and more muscular tail, which extends well out the carapace. As can be seen in the photos, we concluded our individual to be female.

After the measurements it was time for action. Actions that were considered include:
-       returning the animal to sea, but he would probably not have enough energy to survive. Rehab is not really an option in Namibia with only the very small Swakopmund aquarium available.
-        ‘least action is least harm’ approach; the animal was right on the edge of the tide line, so close enough to get back into the sea under its own power if if it could. A return the next day to check up on it (and perform a more detailed necropsy if it had died).

The latter option was chosen, and the turtle was left on the beach. Two days later, on Wednesday October 30, the animal had disappeared, leaving the question on its cause of stranding unanswered – we hope it managed to return to the sea under it’s own strength, but it may have died and been washed away.