Dec 9, 2022

Mawazo Writing Africa

Writing about the main

Sardine fever hits KwaZulu-Natal south coast

Silver ribbons of sardines poured into KwaZulu-Natal on Friday, infecting the south coast with the long-awaited ‘Sardine Fever’.

Entrepreneurial fishermen flocked to the beaches of Margate to fish for them.

< p>Greg Thompson of the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board confirmed that there had been a successful net.

“I don’t make any predictions as to when they will hit the Durban shores because you never know with these fish , but I’m glad they arrived. It’s good for tourism,” he said.

Every winter, usually June or July, millions of sardines leave the frigid waters off Cape Point and make their way up the coast to KwaZulu-Natal .

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Every year vacationers flock to the province to catch a glimpse of the spectacle dubbed the world’s largest school of fish, where sharks, birds and dolphins go on a feeding frenzy while hunting on the sardines.

Thompson used to say the elusive little silverfish have “a mind of their own” and “seem to enjoy proving us wrong year after year”.

His crew conducted an observation flight into the waters of the Eastern Cape on Tuesday to assess the movement of schools of sardines.

“The flight departed from Virginia Airport and rotated at Hole In The Wall. The water was discolored and ranged from 1m to 4m in KwaZulu-Natal with some areas having no visibility. The upper region of the Eastern Cape, from Mzamba to Goss Point, had a maximum visibility of 2m to 3m, with areas where mud was being kicked up from the seabed to the surface. Very little sardine related activity was sighted in this area apart from two very small pockets seen in the surf zone off the Wild Coast Sun.”

“Then we started seeing decent schools of purple sardines at Waterfall Bluff extends to Poenskop, north of Port St. Johns. These pockets were primarily seen along the shallow line between the backline and slightly offshore. About 40 pockets were seen, one of which was a long, thin piece about 400m long. Throughout the flight we had large schools of common and bottlenose dolphins. We also saw 18 humpback whales and two Bryde’s whales,” said Thompson.

From Port St. Johns to Hole In The Wall, sardine-related activity was observed further offshore, with most Cape gannets in front Hluleka and Mtakatye.

“Unfortunately due to the muddy water on last week’s flight we can’t really tell how fast the sardine schools are moving north or if they are staying in the Waterfall Bluff/Mbotyi area” , said Thompson.

The next flight to East London is scheduled for June 21.

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