THE KZN Sharks Board undertook its second monitoring flight of the 2018 sardine season on Thursday, 7 June.
Mike Anderson-Reade, Head of Operations, said the Board’s interest in the annual run is to ensure that any shoals of sardines that are accompanied by large groups of predators are monitored and that the shark safety gear is managed accordingly to minimise any negative environmental impact of the gear.
“Numerous shoals of various species of baitfish can still be seen off the KZN coast on a daily basis, especially during periods of calm sea conditions. Aerial observations showed the highest concentration of these shoals to be in the area between Umhlanga Rocks and Amanzimtoti and secondly off Port Edward on the south coast. Small numbers of sardines will often be found amongst these other species of baitfish,” said Anderson-Reade.
He said the first positive signs of heavy predator activity, which is normally associated with sardines, was seen about 5km to the north of Cobb Inn stretching southwards to just south of Mazeppa Point on the Eastern Cape coast.
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“Thousands of common dolphin and Cape gannets were observed diving and feeding on what we suspect were shoals of sardines. Although these were very positive signs this area is still some 200km south of KwaZulu-Natal and if these shoals do indeed move northwards, it may well be some time before they eventually reach KZN. This however does not exclude the possibility of some small shoals of sardines currently occurring off the KZN coast,” he said.
Anderson-Reade said Shark safety gear remains in place at all protected beaches along the coast and all beaches with the exception of certain central Durban beaches which are closed for the sand replenishment operations remain open for bathing.
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