Lockdown has not stopped sardines from appearing in the Eastern Cape

Large shoals of sardines have been spotted in the waters along the Eastern Cape coastline. Image: The Conversation

The jury is still out on whether the much-anticipated sardine run will take place soon‚ although large shoals have been spotted along the Eastern Cape coastline.

The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board said on Tuesday it had been receiving “numerous” reports of large concentrations of sardines and associated activity between East London and Mazeppa Bay.

“The severe cold front‚ with its gale-force southwesterly winds and large surf — which is due to hit the KwaZulu-Natal coast on Tuesday — could drive the sardines into deeper water‚” said the Shark Board’s Greg Thompson.

He said the shoals could reappear inshore along the KwaZulu-Natal south coast when the weather conditions settle.

Thompson said there was always a possibility of “being surprised by fish that have moved through in the deep or small pockets without any predators to announce their arrival.”

The Shark Board said its preseason predictions about the arrival of the sardines‚ dubbed the “greatest shoal on earth”‚ had been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown regulations.

“In a normal scenario‚ the Sharks Board undertakes routine preseason aerial surveys and boat trips to track the movement of the sardines through the Eastern Cape.

“We are also in constant contact with shore anglers and dive operators who are based at the Wild Coast and can see activity passing. ”

Thompson said they also usually relied on seine netters for information.

He said due to the restrictions imposed by government‚ all shark safety nets were removed on March 24.

“As a result no sardine surveillance flights or operational boating activity has been permitted.

“Therefore no physical monitoring of the sardines has been undertaken by the board‚” said Thompson.

By: Suthentira Govender

Source: ARENA Holdings.

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