Sardine Run begins in Ramsgate, KwaZulu-Natal

Posted by Imogen Searra on 1 June 2020

The annual sardine run seems to be gearing up in the southern KwaZulu-Natal waters. On Monday [1 June] shoals of sardines were netted in Ramsgate.

The KZN Sharks Board said in a statement that these fish are naturally unpredictable and so measures have been implemented to anticipate their arrival.

‘There have been many occasions in the past when predictions and opinions have been totally incorrect. These fish can move through in the deep and out of sight of most of the predators. There have been many years when these fish are not seen on the lower south coast at all and they have appeared without warning at Scottburgh, Amanzimtoti and even Durban on occasions. The Cape Gannets are the best indicators of the sardines and are often seen in vast numbers, dropping out of the sky and diving on the shoals of sardines,’ said Greg Thompson, the acting HOD of Operations for KZN Sharks Board.

Around this time, pre-season aerial surveys and boat trips are conducted through the Eastern Cape to track the sardines movement. Shark safety gear is also removed in KwaZulu-Natal waters as a myriad of predators follow suit with the fish.

‘We are also in constant contact with shore anglers and dive operators, who are based on the Wild Coast and can see the activity passing. We also rely on the seine netters who are well informed and who follow the movements of the shoals with great interest.

‘Due to the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 National lockdown and in accordance with Lockdown Legislation and Regulations, all Shark Safety Gear was removed on 24 March 2020. As a result, no sardine surveillance flights, or operational boating activity has been permitted. Therefore, no physical monitoring of sardine activity has been undertaken by the Board,’ said Thompson.

Read: Shark nets in SA lifted during lockdown

‘We have however been receiving numerous reports of large concentrations of sardines and associated activity in the Eastern Cape between East London and Mazeppa Bay. On Monday 25th May large concentrations of Cape Gannets were seen directly off the Kob Inn at the Qhorha River mouth, which is 230 km south of Port Edward.

‘There is always a possibility of being surprised by fish which have moved through in the deep or small pockets without any predators to announce their arrival.’

Arrive they did. According to a local myth, when Red Hot Poker aloes flower, the sardine run will be epic. On 30 May, one Amanzimtoti resident shared this image on Twitter:

On Monday, [1 June] the Amanzimtoti resident shared this:

More residents shared images of Ramsgate beach on Twitter and shared their concerns of the lack of social distancing protocols being followed.

A 70-year-old man from Welbedacht in Chatsworth who has been netting sardines since age 10 and is well-known in Durban spoke to IOL about his prediction for the upcoming Sardine Run.

‘I think this year there are going to be some of the biggest shoals we’ve seen for a long time. I’m ready. When the fish come, I’ll be there.’

Image credit: Twitter/ @studdybear71






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