Coast KZN

28 Jun 2016

Still no sign of sardines – yet

Samkelo Mtshali (Daily News)


The wait for shoals of sardines to migrate to the KwaZulu-Natal coastline continues as the eagerly anticipated Sardine Run leaves fishermen and lovers of the marine phenomenon wondering when they will show up.

“It is very quiet at the moment along the KZN coastline. We made an observation flight last Thursday, and there was nothing at all. No sign of any activity,” said Mike Anderson-Reade, head of operations at the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board.

He said there were still many small pockets of east coast round herring (red-eye sardines) and mackerel clearly visible in the area from Port St Johns through to the Mbhashe River mouth.

“These are accompanied by several hundred common bottlenose dolphins that feed on the shoals from time to time. Visual confirmation of the species of bait fish has been obtained from dive operators in the area,” said Anderson-Reade.

“Many people have different ideas about why the sardines are not coming, but they can come at any time. This a natural thing and cannot be controlled by man.

“As people got used to the sardines arriving in early June, they now expect them at this time of the year all the time, but they can come in July and even August. We are the creatures of habit,” Anderson-Reade said.

He said they would continue making their weekly observation flights until they start noticing promising activity. Another observation flight was expected to take place today.

He said the absence of sardines was supported by the very few Cape gannets they saw on last week’s flight. “These birds are normally found in great numbers feeding on sardines, which is their preferred prey,” Anderson-Reade added.

He revealed that water temperatures along the South Coast remain in the region of 21.5 degrees Celsius, ideal for bathers.

However, the water is too warm for sardines that favour water temperatures 19.5° C and below.

“The sardine run is notoriously unpredictable and the current situation could change very quickly. All shark safety gear remains at the 37 protected beaches along the KZN coastline and the KZNSB will continue to monitor activity,” he said.

Ocean temperatures in Durban are 21.5° Celsius, eManzimtoti was recorded at 20, Scottburgh at 21.5, Richards Bay at 22, Ramsgate at 20, Mtetweni at 22, and Glenmore was recorded at 20.

SA Weather Services forecaster Jan Vermeulen said he did not expect ocean temperatures to change in the next week.