The sardines have landed in KZN – but don’t celebrate just yet

15 June 2018 - 11:08 By Nivashni Nair
Sardines were netted at Kelso Beach on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast on Thursday, but this did not mean the Greatest Shoal on Earth was guaranteed to land in earnest.
Sardines were netted at Kelso Beach on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast on Thursday, but this did not mean the Greatest Shoal on Earth was guaranteed to land in earnest.
Image: Sewraj Gurdhurparsadh

Silver ribbons of tiny fish that make up the annual sardine run could be anything from a few days to two weeks away from the KwaZulu-Natal coast - or may not arrive at all.

KZN Sharks Board head of operations Michael Anderson-Reade on Friday said it was "very difficult" to predict when‚ and if‚ the highly-anticipated spectacle would reach KwaZulu-Natal this year.

However‚ a monitoring flight to Port St Johns on Thursday morning left Anderson-Reade optimistic.

"The first small pockets of sardines were spotted in the Kelso area [on the KZN south coast] followed by few smaller ones off Mtwalume and Ifafa. These were clearly visible due to the very clear water visibility and there was no predator activity seen with these shoals‚" he said.

A commercial seine netter managed to net 500 crates at Kelso at mid-morning on Thursday‚ however the batch was mixed were other shoaling baitfish species.

"The real action - that is sardine shoals accompanied by thousands of dolphins‚ Cape gannets and sharks – was clearly visible from just north of Mkhambati southwards to Umgazana‚ which is to the south of Port St Johns.

"This was very exciting to see as we have not observed this type of intense activity so near to KwaZulu-Natal for a number of years‚" Anderson-Reade said.

He added that the shark nets between Hibberdene and Port Edward have been removed in anticipation of the arrival of the sardines.

Each winter‚ most often in June or July‚ millions of the silvery sardines leave the cold waters off Cape Point and make their way up the coast to KwaZulu-Natal.

And each year‚ holiday-makers flock to the province to catch a glimpse of the spectacle – which is dubbed the Greatest Shoal on Earth – and includes sharks‚ birds and dolphins in a feeding frenzy as they prey on the sardines.

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