There is a possibility the pilot shoals of sardines may have moved into KwaZulu-Natal unnoticed in the shelter of murky waters or in a deeper line, the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board said on Friday.
The incumbent Board leader Greg Thompson, operations manager, said the elusive fish “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 the sardine schools so far.
“The flight departed from Virginia Airport and turned at Hole In The Wall. The water was still discolored, ranging from 1m to 4m in KwaZulu-Natal, with some areas still lacking visibility. The upper region of the Eastern Cape, from Mzamba to Goss Point, had a maximum visibility of 2-3m, with areas where mud was still being stirred up from the seabed to the surface,” Thompson said.
” Very little sardine-related activity has been sighted in this area, apart from two very small pockets in the surf zone off the Wild Coast Sun.
“Then we started seeing decent schools of purple sardines scattered from Waterfall Bluff to Poenskop, north of Port St. Johns. These pockets were primarily seen along the shallow line between the backline and slightly offshore. There were about 40 bags, one of which was a long thin piece about 400m long. During this flight we had large schools of common and bottlenose dolphins. We also saw 18 humpback whales and two Bryde’s whales.”
From Port St. Johns to Hole In The Wall, sardine-related activity was further offshore, with most Cape gannets off Hluleka and Mtakatye were.
“Unfortunately due to the muddy water on last week’s flight we can’t really estimate how fast the sardine swarms are moving north or if they are still staying in the Waterfall Bluff/Mbotyi area”, said Thompson.
The next flight to East London is scheduled for June 21.
Every winter, usually June or July, millions of sardines leave the frigid waters off Cape Point and make their way up the KwaZulu-Natal coast.
Every year, holidaymakers flock to the province to catch a glimpse of the spectacle dubbed the ‘world’s largest school of fish’ and sharks , birds and dolphins in a feeding frenzy includes hunting the sardines.< /p>
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