Six front-end loaders were also brought in to help return the whales to the ocean but many of those that were successfully returned either came straight back to shore or were washed onto beaches further up the coast. The rescue efforts were thought to be prolonging the agony of the whales and Marine and Coastal Management scientist Mike Meyer decided to remove the helpless whales from the sea and halt the rescue attempts.
According to Craig Lambinon of the NSRI, about five had died from natural causes. It was eventually decided to euthenise those that could not be returned to the sea. In the end 34 of the whales were put out of their agony with a pistol shot to the head.
Nobody is quite sure what caused the whales to beach themselves and although sonar is often thought to be the reason, a spokesman for the South African Navy reported that this type of technology is not used in South Africa. Nan Rice, head of the Dolphin Action and Protection group said that the whales could have become stranded due to a navigational error.
Above photo: Nic Bothma / EPA