Last Blog for 2010

July 21, 2010

Final Update for 2010

WE’ve come to the end of another fantastic year on the sardine run (so far as UKZN sardine run research field trips are concerned). Thankfully, the sardine run is happening along the Durban shoreline, even now as I type. You gotta love this time of year. Please see below for the final update of our 2010 research:

Final Update for 2010

Thanks to all of you who followed and commented upon our work.

all the best and till 2011…


HI Blogees,

sorry about the lack of postings lately; my laptop died in PSJ, and it’s not the sort of town to be fixing laptops in.

We’re back in Durban after successfuly deploying our 3rd tag. I will do a proper upcatching when I finish ploughing through my emails and stuff.

The sardines are on the KZN coast with netting happening for the past 3 days. This strong westerly will have put the brakes on for a while, but with good weather predicted for the weekend, one should get one’s butt down to the KZN South Coast for a good chance of sardine activity. Baizley is a good bet.

more later,


July 11th 2010

July 11, 2010

A Timely Day Off

The westerly has arrived. We launched at our usual time this morning and there was about 15 knots of wind on the water. This is an uncomfortabl wind, but by no means a boat slayer. However, there is another big buster on the way, and we don’t want to have our last tag committed and find ourselves in a nasty sea. So we turned around and came home to toasted sangers for breakfast. This afternoon will be devoted to chopping up our fish samples etc. etc. Tonight is the big final, and all of the sardine run boat crews will head somewhere festive. Good times indeed.

common dolphin jumping. All photos courtesy of Rod Haestier

July 9th 2010

July 9, 2010

Dear Blogees,

thanks for your comments. Sorry for not replying, but internet is too slow here.

please see the pdf link.



Copper too

July 7th 2010

July 7, 2010

What a great day. You can read all about it. Please see below…

Copper Gold

July 6th 2010

July 6, 2010

Greetings to you all. Please see the attached pdf for today’s blog. ciao

Striped lightning

July 5th 2010

July 5, 2010

Back in PSJ, and very slow internet again. Please see the pdf link below… thanks

July 5th 2010

3rd July 2010

July 3, 2010

SO, where are the sardines?

Sea surface temperature for 1st July 2010. image courtesy MRSU

Well, we know that they are up on the Upper Wild Coast, and we know that conditions are cooling down along the east coast, which gives the sardine and excellent chance of making it up to KZN, so where are they? Reports that we’ve had are that the fish are around, but that they are quite deep. This means that the fish cannot have been close to shore over the past couple of days.

Who doesn't love to see cows on the beach?

Since my last blog, we had a westerly buster blast through the coastline. These winds are thought (by many old hands of the run) to help the fish move up the coastline, which should be a good thing. Unfortunately, strong westerly winds are often accompanied by large swells, which, our data show, tend to result in fewer sardine sightings from shore. Perhaps the large swell drive the fish away from shore and into deeper water. We’re hoping that this nice little spell of good, settled weather and cool sea conditions (19 – 20 degress C) that we’re enjoying, will help with the sighting of fish from land.

The problem with cool sea conditions is that if they stretch out across the continental shelf, then the fish will be able to inhabit the whole shelf and needn’t run the gauntlet of the near shore. Ideally, we’d now like to see some warm water press them up tight against the shoreline, so that we can get the spectacle that we crave. It would not be unheard of for the fish suddenly to appear off the Mdoni region having not been sighted further south along the KZN coastline. In the Mdoni region, sardine are likely to run into the warm Durban Eddy, a semi-permanent gyre of the Agulhas Current that flows shoreward at Mdoni and then northward past Durban. Our data show that it is in this region of the coastline that the sardines come closest to the shoreline. This obviously makes for good sight-seeing from land, but also is very useful for the beach-seine netters who are, undoubtedly, all poised for their annual harvest. Tomorrow morning we head back down to PSJ to have a second stab at collecting our data. I’ll be sure to keep everybody posted as to our progress (and will once again have to wrestle with the jaw-grindingly slow internet connection). Gotta love the Transkei. I guess it’s rad that the internet even reaches down to there.

Packing the boat in preparation for our next day on the water

All the best…

Great news! We’ve had numerous reports of solid dolphin (both common & bottlenose) and gannet feeding activity off Red Sands, Wild Coast. This is a mere 20 km south of Port Edward. Fishermen confirmed the presence of sardine in the stomachs of gamefish landed in this region. We can expect the advance shoals to reach Port Edward by the weekend, and if these shoals get squashed shorewards by warm water, then we can expect to be thrilled.

Sea surface temperature on 26th June 2010. image courtesy of MRSU

The arrival of these fish follows a period of cooling of shelf waters to within sardine’s preferred temperature range (compare the above SST image with that from the 21st June). In the image from the 26thJune, there is a clearly visible strip of 20 °C water reaching up to KZN. While these do not represent the epic conditions of 2004 (see below, but note the different temperature scales used), they should be sufficient to allow sardines to reach KZN.  Once again, the importance of temperature in regulating the movement of these fish is manifest as circumstantial evidence.

Sea surface temperature on 23rd June 2004. image courtesy of

We’ll be heading back down to Port St Johns on Sunday, where we will hopefully be able to conclude our shark tagging data collection.

photo: Will Robbins

June 29th 2010

June 29, 2010

Finally, back in warm Durbs!! Back in boardshorts and t-shirts, even now at 18h00. And don’t even think about putting a heater on… Saying that, a cold front does arrive tomorrow.

It’s been an action packed few days, and not just on the football pitch either. Since the 22nd, we (myself and the Canadian Crazy 4), have attended 4 matches, spent 4 days in the Pilanesberg Game Reserve (watching a pride of lions feeding upon and fighting over an elephant carcass), and had crazy times in the fan parks of Jo’burg.

Four ladies of liberty and their buffoon-zela-man

Fun times before Japan vs Denmark in Rustenberg

and Japan qualify for the next round...

lioness feeding on elephant carcass

During this time, the sardine run activity has been slowly creeping northwards along the Wild Coast. The last report I had, 3 days ago, was of activity off Coffee Bay. If the northward progression is sustained, we should have some activity off Port St Johns any day now! We’ll keep you posted…