Sardines, sharks and the South Coast

Posted by Imogen Searra on 4 June 2020

The Sardine Run 2020 has kicked off on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. This natural phenomenon has been called the ‘Greatest Shoal on Earth’ and is an incredible display of oceanic food chains.

Greg Thompson of the KZN Sharks Board released a statement explaining that early waves of sardines are called pilot shoals.

‘They are normally small, thin pockets of fish which arrive ahead of the main concentration or shoal. These fish tend to move quickly without all the associated predators. It was very interesting to hear that yesterday’s [31 May] pockets at Port Edward were fairly large and there was an abundance of sharks feeding on them. As indicated in my first report of the season last week, a cold front can often enhance the movements of the shoals and cause them to appear inshore. I am sure that this activity will have all the seine netters focused and ready for action this week,’ said Thompson.

In a statement on Facebook, South Coast Tourism said that the correct protocols in line with COVID-19 are in place for seine netters. ‘In Level 3, licenced seine netters are able to operate as long as they follow the precautionary measures implemented at businesses, including wearing masks, ensuring correct hygiene procedures and physical distancing.’ Beaches still remain closed to the public.

CEO of Ugu South Coast Tourism, Phelisa Mangcu, said: ‘Fortunately, nature is not limited by the current travel restrictions in place and we are able to experience the annual Sardine Run which has brought much activity to the KZN South Coast. This is usually one of the area’s biggest tourism attractions, but this year we are obviously observing all national lockdown Level 3 restrictions and beaches remain closed. However, USCT will be sharing footage of the Sardine Run on its social media platforms to give everyone a chance to experience this wonderful event from home.’

Fishermen on Ramsgate beach pulled in a massive net of sardines. Among the fish was a large shark which fishermen worked quickly to release.

The KZN Shark Boards dropped all shark nets on 24 March, allowing all marine life to move freely. Take a look at the video, caught on camera by Faeez Fuz Mamdoo, of the shark being returned to safety below.

Also read:

Sardine Run begins in Ramsgate, KwaZulu-Natal

Image credit: Twitter/ South Coast Tourism/ Justin Klusner Photography


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