Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Shark Chronicles 026 - The power of the ocean


With the onset of cold and particularly windy conditions over the 1st weekend of September, SAMPLA operations temporarily ceased after an eventful, shark-filled week.

Unfortunately, the brunt of the storm hit the aquarium, and the spring tidal surge combined with the huge swell overwhelmed the sea defences, flooding the aquarium. Much of the operational equipment was badly damaged, and all power for pumps and filters was lost. Adam and Ryan struggled to shore up the doors, but the force of the waves took the doors clean off.

The winds relented on Monday, but the waves continued to pound Mossel Bay. SAMPLA operations were restricted to carrying out seal surveys from the roof of the Diaz Beach Hotel. The aquarium was again swamped by the sea, and its prospects for the immediate future looked grave.

By Tuesday the winds and swells had dropped enough for us to return to sea, and launch a salvage mission at the aquarium. Adam and Nico (from the aquarium) braved the cold water of the main tank in order to start draining it and rescue the sharks. With a combination of perseverance, ingenuity and brute force they managed to break a pipe to begin draining the tank, whilst Ryan again tried to secure the doors.

Once enough water had drained, James and Adam climbed in and began the rescue operation to remove and release the sharks. No sooner had the last of the sharks had been removed from the tank, the sea again began to flow into the aquarium as high tide approached. We loaded them onto Ryan’s truck, and took them to a rocky-reef area to be released. Again, the power of the sea proved too much, whilst trying to release the sharks. The harbour was decided the safest place to release the remaining sharks, and after some gentle flushing of water over their gills, all appeared to swim away in good health, much to Adams relief.

The future of the aquarium now rests in the hands of its owners, and support from the public. For Adam the frustration of seeing two months of hard work being literally washed out to sea was perhaps offset by releasing the sharks back into the wild.

James Anderson (SAMPLA intern)

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

The owners are fixing and hopefully it wont be too long before all is up and running

Fiona said...

Amazing seeing the photos of the sea, hard to imagine that only a week later things are looking normal again.