Coast KZN

27 May 2022

SARDINE UPDATE: Shoals of sardines spotted on backline off Coffee Bay

(South Coast Herald)

The KZN Sharks Board recently conducted an observation flight into the Eastern Cape Waters to assess the movement of the sardine shoals thus far. The flight departed from Virginia airport and turned at Hole in the Wall.

The water was very discoloured for most of the coastline, especially in KZN due to the latest flooding.

A magical display of an underwater feeding frenzy involving dolphins and sardines. Photo by Pier Mane/African Dive Adventures

Greg Thompson of KZN Sharks Board said that visibility improved as they got into the Eastern Cape and from the Msikaba area the activity started to pick up, which was good to see.

The following observations where made as they moved through to Hole in the Wall.

These numbers are approximate figures:

Msikaba – 20 bottlenose moving north just behind the backline. – 200 common dolphin charging north 1 km offshore.

Two humpback whales moving north 1 km offshore.

Grosvenor – 15 to 20 sharks jumping in the muddy water 150 m behind backline with 30 gannets searching. This is a definite indication that there are sardines in that area.

Goss Point – Seven small shoals of sardines close to the backline.

Luphuthana – 15 to 20 common dolphin charging north 1 km offshore.

Waterfall Bluff – Three pods of about 500 common dolphin feeding in the area with yellowfin tuna feeding on bait balls and about 200 gannets diving. Very active from backline to about 2 km offshore.

Previous years! Crates of sardines being carried away at Uvongo.

Mbotyi – six shoals of sardines on backline with 80 to 100 bottlenose moving north.

Thousand common dolphin feeding scattered 2 km offshore.

Manteku – One big shoal of sardines on backline with terns feeding in this area.

Black Sands – 1000 common dolphins moving north 2 km offshore.

Mntafufu – 60 bottlenose moving north 1 km offshore and about 50 gannets diving and rafting.

Poenskop – 500 common dolphins moving north 2 km offshore.

Umngazi – 200 bottlenose dolphins moving north 1 km offshore.

Umngazana – 60 scattered dolphins activity, 1 km offshore.

Brazen Head – Thin small shoals, with terns feeding but these pockets looked more like redeyes.

The Kraal – 200 scattered bottlenose feeding and 50 gannets sitting on the water.

About 20 sardine shoals along the backline.

Mpande – Numerous shoals of sardines moving north along the backline. 200 bottlenose dolphin moving north with about 50 terns dipping/feeding on these shoals.

Another 50 bottlenose dolphin feeding on backline just south of the river.

Hluleka – Numerous shoals of sardines on backline.

Two pods of 70 to 80 bottlenose dolphin moving north on backline.

Bait balls of sardine on backline, with terns dipping/feeding.

Mtakatye – 100 bottlenose dolphins moving north on backline.

Presley Bay – Five shoals of sardines on backline, with sharks and 50 bottlenose dolphins moving north. There were +-50 gannets diving and sitting in this area.

Mdumbi – 50 bottlenose dolphins moving north on backline and about 20 gannets searching.

Mthatha – 40 bottlenose moving north 1km offshore.

Maphuzi – 80 bottlenose dolphins moving north in the backline. Three thin shoals of probably redeyes spraying.

Coffee Bay – One large shoal of sardines in back line.

Hole in the Wall – Three shoals of sardines in the backline, with 150 bottlenose dolphins moving north. The most favourable water visibility on this flight was only about 3-4 m and this was in the entire area between Hole in the Wall and Umgazana.

These indications are all positive, that the sardines are making their way up from the Eastern Cape towards KwaZulu-Natal.

Especially, when you take the increase in shark activity at Grosvenor into consideration.

There is also a good possibility that we may have missed activity further north towards KZN due to the poor visibility.