Who would have thought 6 months could fly by so quickly, just the other day it was the December holidays and here it is already the end of June and the winter school holidays are upon us once more. Unfortunately at this time the weather here on the south coast is not as warm as it is in December, but because our coast is generally around 20 to 24 degrees Celcius for most of our winter, international tourists and inland visitors to our coast still brave swimming in the sea with a moderate average water temperature of 20 to 24 degrees. Most visitors to KZN south coast come from areas where winter temperatures are frequently in the low single figures throughout the winter, so our much warmer winters are a treat for holiday makers.
At this time of the year everyone is wondering when the sardines will arrive (the notorious KZN Sardine Run!). For those who don’t know of this event, it is a natural phenominon that only happens on our KZN east coast, nowhere else in the world does this occur and scientists are still to this day baffled as to where these small silver slippery creatures come from and also where they go to from here. However, the excitement caused by the huge shoals of these fish (when they do actually make an appearance because there is no guarantee that they will even arrive each year) is enough to take ones mind totally off the facts of their “coming” and “goings”. There is usually a frenzy, firstly by the gulls, gannets and the frenzy feeding sharks, as well as other large game fish species that follow the plentiful food source, and then also by us two legged creatures that just can’t get enough of the excitement of the prescense of the little fish and their boiling lively activity in the sea. One fact that is a certainty, is that the sea temperature close to shore needs to drop to 19 degrees celcius for these fish to come close to shore, or otherwise they will pass our coast line in very deep water out of sight, which often does happen and then we miss out on this spectacle. We would sometimes know about this by the vast amount of bird activity out at sea.
A small shoal could sometimes be around for an hour, whereas some larger shoals could keep fish mad humans busy for up to seven hours at a time. From a large shoal, seine netters will haul in many basket loads of these fish for commercial use, some of the other excited fish mad people will be people catching (in any way possible) for self consumption, while a large group would be fishermen catching as much as possible, to provide a bait source for the very active rock and surf angling here at the coast for the months ahead.
This frenzy of little fish season is normally followed by shad runs which can also come in varying sizes of shoals, causing a major stir with “rock and surf” line anglers. This larger species of fish can weigh up to five and more kilograms towards the end of the season, at the end of the year. There is a one month closed season (being November each year) for this species, as they are heavily fished because they are also a very popular food source fish caught every year.
We have a tourism Sardine Hot Line where one can call daily to get updates on the activities of the sardines throughout the winter season. A small aircraft regularly does a trip up and down the east coast, searching for and reporting back on the sardines and their whereabouts. The number to call is 083 913 7908, and you will be given a full report on the sardines. There have already been some shoals sighted but they have been way down down south of the Wild Coast. We are forever hopeful that the water remperature will get down to 19 degrees from the current 22 degrees temperature, and that the sardines will in fact arrive again this year. This does mean that the weather will also be a lot cooler for a while for that to happen, but what the heck, if you have witnessed the sardines before then you will know it is all worth the slight inconvenience.
I will place more on this Blog in the near future as the winter progresses and when sardines arrive, but until then if you can’t get here to the KZN South Coast then you can use the Sardine Hot Line and follow this blog, for more and the latest news.