Plettenberg Bay, South Africa 21 June – 30 June 2024

To move or not, it's a whale of a problem

To move or not, it's a whale of a problem

Whale carcass management in MPAs

Dealing with beached whale carcasses has social, legal, financial, ecological, and logistical components. However, limited research on the topic hinders informed decision-making. A large whale carcass washing ashore in a South African marine protected area (MPA) provided an opportunity to gain insight into tourists’ perspectives on carcass management within a national park and MPA setting. Eighty tourists were interviewed and a thematic analysis approach was adopted to identify key themes and quantify responses. Chi-squared tests of independence were used to determine if respondents' views on carcass management were dependent on i) their knowledge of the MPA existence and, ii) whether the provision of contextual information influenced tourists' perceptions. Tourists had mixed responses to carcass management with half the respondents indicating that the carcass should be left to decompose naturally. Viewpoints were significantly influenced when context and information on the decision-making process were provided, with more tourists stating that no management intervention would be necessary. We propose a simple flow-diagram as a decision-support tool which, in combination with spatial zonation maps identifying applicable management options, will help guide decision-making for management authorities. Being inclusive, transparent, and consulting with experienced role-players from multiple agencies provided legitimacy to the final management decisions. Documenting the carcass decomposition indicates that on a high energy rocky shore carcass decomposition can be rapid and provide a food source for various scavengers.


Kyle is an ocean-loving, trail-running marine ecologist based with SANParks at Rondevlei Scientific Services in the Garden Route. He conducts applied social-ecological research in the marine and estuarine environments, focusing on recreational and subsistence fisheries, estuarine fish communities, and the effectiveness of marine protected areas. A proud dad and husband, believes we should all learn more from our kids.

This event takes place on:

Sunday 23 June

15:00 - 15:25