Sardine Run 2011The caravan of sardines and associated predators continued up the coast to Mazeppa Bay over the next 14 days. A frontal system approached and although it only blew for a 24hr period it had the effect of breaking up the activity from the first pulse (and the second pulse which was developing in the Hamburg area: this pulse was not resighted during our period in the south and in all probability retreated further south still).
The activity (before the front) stretched over 24km and was a sight to behold with between 20 and 30 Brydes whales working in pairs and spread over a 1km area of intense baitball activity. The shark numbers were incredible with blacktips, coppers, duskies, raggies and even the odd bull shark making an appearance. Approximately 15 000 gannets were working this pulse and a pod of 2000 common dolphin. A male and female pair of Orca also made an appearance with this pulse off Gonubie. Check out the videoimage copyright bluewilderness 2011
Once this pulse moved north of Mazeppa Bay it never regained the intensity and although there was reasonable activity in the Port St. Johns to Waterfall Bluff area it did not reach the consistency and “high voltage”of the activity further south. The consolation was a few Brydes Whales that remained in the area, a few thousand birds, good shark numbers and approximately 800 common dolphin. There were also a fair number of other bait fish species in the area which the predators would eventually feed off and thus patience was often rewarded with some activity.
The Sardines made their way onto the KZN coast by the 14th July when a net was taken at Margate. The next nets were only taken ten days later and netting continued into August off the Durban beachfront. The entire predator load had dropped off and other than the sardines there appears to be little prospect of any inshore intensity in so far as natural predation is concerned.image copyright bluewilderness 2011
In conclusion the Blue Wilderness modus operandi of starting in the south and moving north with the shoals and associated activity played out to perfection for the Blue Wilderness team this year and will once again form the basis of our strategy for 2011. In fact, this was another year when the entire period spent in East London delivered activity as opposed to the one in ten day success rate achieved further north. It appears to us that unless some significant intervention by the managers of the sardine stock is entered into the sardine biomass on the east coast will be under pressure and the sardine event in the upper Transkei and KZN coast will be far less of a spectacle than in the late 1990’s when it delivered consistent sardine shoals.image copyright bluewilderness 2011image copyright bluewilderness 2011