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…

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