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10 Jun 2016

Snow, rain, big seas for KZN, but no sardines

Samkelo Mtshali (Daily News)

 

Shark nets at some beaches on the KwaZulu-Natal coast are being lifted ahead of big seas and strong winds expected, as a cold front hits the province this weekend.

Head of operations at the KZN Sharks Board, Mike Anderson-Reade, said the nets were not being lifted because of the expected shoals of sardines, but to protect anti-shark gear from damage.

Anderson-Reade said the board would remove the nets at some smaller beaches, but would ensure the main beaches were open for bathing.

The board made a third observation flight on Wednesday in the lead-up to this year’s sardine run, but found little evidence that the shoals were on the way north.

Anderson-Reade said a flight last week spotted signs of increased sardine-associated activity off the Eastern Cape coast in the area between Coffee Bay and Hole in the Wall, about 140km south of KZN.

“There were hundreds of Cape gannets actively diving and sitting on the water surface and an abundance of common dolphins feeding in this area, which is generally a good sign of sardine activity.”

He said on Wednesday they had expected to see similar activity in the same area or closer to KZN, but this was not the case.

“Very few Cape gannets were seen on the flight, which ended at the Mbhashe River mouth, about 180km from the southern KZN border.”

Anderson-Reade added that there was still an abundance of common dolphin activity over a vast area stretching from Port St Johns to the Mbhashe River mouth.

“Hundreds of shoals of different types of bait fish are still clearly visible at the surface all along the inshore region of both KZN and the Eastern Cape. These shoals are often suspected to be sardines. It is possible there may well be a few pockets of sardines mixed among these,” Anderson-Reade said.

He said they would continue to make weekly flights along the coast to monitor the movement of the shoals towards Durban, despite the last four years of the sardine run not living up to expectations.

“We cannot say exactly what the cause of the downturn in the numbers is. We hope we are experiencing a cycle, and although four years might seem like a long time to us because we are eager for large shoals, in nature it is nothing. We hope it will pick up again soon,” Anderson-Reade said.

The SA Weather Service said the cold front that hit Cape Town last night would reach the KZN coastline, including Margate, Durban and Richards Bay, this evening.

“On Saturday, the cold front will bring strong to gale-force winds and there will be a 60% chance of rain along the KZN coast. Inland chances of rain will be at 30%. There is a chance of light snowfall in the Drakensberg area for tomorrow, and temperatures across KZN will be cold over the weekend,” said weather forecaster, Madimetja Thema.

Thema said the cold front would move further north on Saturday, but chances of light rains would remain in the coastal areas.

 

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