Sharks At Walvis Bay Lagoon Saved And Back At Sea

17 Jan 2024

A daily walk or jog along the lagoon at Walvis Bay is a cherished routine for many locals. Tourists also enjoy the spot where sea birds like pelicans and flamingos can often be watched.

However, on Monday, 15 January 2024 joggers and dog walkers spotted something unusual: several fins were circling frantically in a tidal pool. A group of juvenile and small sharks were literally stranded after the high tide subsided.

Shark rescue mission the Namibian way: All 14 sharks were rescued from a tidal pool at the Walvis Bay lagoon where they were stranded.
Photo by: OCN

 

Members of the non-governmental organisation Ocean Conservation Namibia (OCN), founded by Naudĕ Dreyer were called and they responded quickly with several volunteers and family members.

“If the tide was coming in, we wouldn't have worried too much and knew they'd have access to open waters very soon; however, we still had another three hours of low tide,” OCN said. “We knew if we didn't return the sharks to deeper waters soon, they would not survive the intense heat from the midday sun.”

 

This young volunteer literally caught the shark bare-handed to return it to the ocean.
Photo by: OCN

 

With big nets attached to long rods and large buckets the barefoot group, most of them without gloves grabbed the sharks either by the tail, enduring their twists and turns and landing them in the buckets or caught them with the funnel nets. The trick was to avoid being bitten. The sharks were then carried to the ocean side of the lagoon and released in the Atlantic.

“We rescued mainly Smooth-hound and Spotted Gully sharks. They were super strong and certainly didn't make our job easy. Nevertheless, we are happy we managed to return all 14 sharks to open waters,” reported OCN on social media.

This rescue mission received attention locally and internationally on social media with grateful comments from the public, admiring the operation.

Sharks stranded in a tidal pool at the Walvis Bay lagoon were rescued.
Photo by OCN

 

Shark populations worldwide are declining despite several coastal nations having introduced stricter laws and regulations to protect them. 

 Although OCN mainly catches seals entangled in ugly plastic ropes. nets and fishing line and cuts them free, the organisation has in the meantime become rescuers of different maritime species as well.

Last Easter, an injured pelican, which could not fly, was spotted in the Walvis Bay harbour and OCN was contacted. Well, instead of an Easter bunny, one of the OCN members had a pelican in their garden a little later, where the bird was “waiting for his lunch (a fish) to de-freeze”, the member humorously wrote. 

Brigitte Weidlich  

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