Hello all and welcome to deidel-great blog. I am sure you are quite correct on a number of points. I was there on Sat for many hours in the cold. I witnessed the enormous human spirit and effort at work and I believe we could have achieved almost anything given the manpower.
However, many factors were stacked against us and ultimately the whales. We had returned these whales to the sea before the marine scientists had gotten there, they had re-beached. Remembering that the sea was rough and it was cold.We then collected them into one large group in the centre of the beach and a smaller group near the rocks and tried to release them as a pod. Remember it WAS high tide when we 1st released them, once again they re-beached at that stage spreading themselves further afield. Instead of a concentrated pod we now had an almost 2km area with whales here and there. Again we tried with the same result, a couple then died. It was then decided to bring them closer in-shore during the low tide and keep them comfy ie. on their abdomens so as to best inflate their lungs, keep them facing shore as they were less stressed that way, dig a channel to keep water flowing around them, keep them in small groups etc etc. The number of volunteers at that stage was huge, the crowd were not listening to officials and keeping beyond the kelp line, some people brought dogs...! We (NSRI) had 2 injuries with people rolled on by whales one fracturing his knee, 2 near drownings, many people becoming hypothermic and still people would pick up a whale and swim it beyond the breakers to try and try. Eventually someone was going to get seriously injured or drown. The crowd were then ordered out of the water as they were too large, over too huge an area and it was too risky.
Many of the animals were injured at that stage, I went around from group to group. Most were females, many were youngsters and they were separated from their mothers and swam out by helpers...these were suckling youngsters unable to survive alone. I saw many females with vaginal/rectal prolapses from the straining and abdominal pressure of being on land, these would not have survived if put back. It became increasingly difficult to control the scene AND many of the animals were in a poor state by then (now 6 hrs later). It was low tide.The decision was then taken to euthanase them. I left at that point, not wishing to witness the shooting-every person on that beach had the same option. Unfortunately many people refused to obey police and do so, somehow believing that if they disobeyed no-one would dare shoot in front of innocent bystanders.
I believe the crowds disobeying did not help and it added to the decision as there was a lack of control. Nobody is however to blame. Many avenues were investigated but it seemed hopeless at the time with all these creatures turning around straight back to the beach every time. Losing someone in an effort to save animals that were injured and seemed to just be re-beaching anyway was part of the final decision.
A very hard day indeed.
Pls see Kommetjie Whales group on facebook for further insights, they are trying to solve this for future; god forbid it ever happens again.