Vesselfinder screen shot of fishing vessels fishing close together of Xai Xai

Vesselfinder Site helps identify illegal fishing boats

Vesselfinder Site helps identify illegal fishing boats

The featured Vesselfinder website helps identify illegal fishing boats. And there is a mobile app you can download for free too. For Android and Mac. There is a paid-for version, but the website and free app give you enough information and even some vessels have their pictures featured so you can really see who it is out there.

Just drag the map around, zoom in and out, and start your own ship spotting habit.

Unfortunately, there is no-one to report the potential transgressors to in South Africa. The post is vacant according to the official website. And in Mozambique, you may as well whistle from a street corner.

Vesselfinder screen shot of fishing vessels fishing close together off Xai Xai in Mozambique.
Vesselfinder screenshot of fishing vessels (blue) fishing close together off Xai Xai in Mozambique

This is an example of suspicious activity today, off Maxixe, in Mozambique. Although they all have their AIS transmitters on and transmitting, their sailing configuration is suspicious…

Pair trolling

There is a kind of commercial fishing practice, that uses a huge net, dragged between two ships. Called pair trawling, that some unscrupulous ships resort to, that is completely illegal because it is so effective. And it is mainly deployed in areas where there NO fish left to catch. Just like here in Mozambique, where no matter how many long lines you put out here, there just aren’t enough fish left anymore. It feels like we are down to 1%, never mind the claimed 4%. That we even still catch any fish anymore is a miracle.

Not even small commercial ski-boats can survive a commercial fishing operation out here, let alone the huge ships and trawlers and the like, that we are seeing at the moment.

And so this day (see screencap above), we have FIVE fishing vessels all smashing about the gamefish waters of Maxixe. Huddling close together, they could be pair netting in tandem, and absolutely destroying all that is left, with this cunning and evil fishing method.

So if you ever see two of these boats sailing together, with only one AIS transmitter transmitting, report and hopefully photograph that, please.


All the foreign loans and corrupt deals in the world won’t get any form of policing by the government, out there. I have, in all my many years in this place, seen but a handful of working government ocean-going vessel. I have seen literally hundreds of trashed ones lying about, up and down the Mozambican coastline. Fishing vessels too. Government-owned. Government-destroyed as they lie rotting away. Maputo. Angoche. Beira. All over the place.

In South Africa, the person you could call doesn’t even exist. The post is vacant?!

And so, all we can do is be knowledgeable as we can about these possibly trespassing trawlers, and report the suspicious sightings on Facebook, at our Trawler Watch page. At least this creates some sort of log that might be used as evidence in the future.

Visit via the link below…

Suspected illegal fishing activity can be monitored on any AIS software. App or website, there are many to choose from.

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Praia Do Tofo as seen from Fatima's Nest

Praia do Tofo December 2019 Activities

Praia do Tofo December 2019 Activities

The tropical and hot summer weather has come to Praia do Tofo, and along with it, the good times. The scene on the wide-open beach is magical – surfers and sunbathers making the most of the over thirty-degree temperatures. Divers are in and out of the water all day long as the water itself warms towards thirty degrees too (last year we recorded a record-breaking 33-degree water temperature!).

The little beach market with its restaurants and bars is bustling again.
In fact, the whole of Mozambique seems to be on the boil. It is certainly improving over the last few years of doldrums up here. Many more people seem to be coming to visit. From all corners, just like old times.

The roads are fantastic nowadays, the police have calmed down, and that new bridge over Maputo Bay really opens things up for Durban people to jet across, and be in the colourful Praia do Tofo in a day. Spending a night in Ponto D’Ouro or Maputo is an easier and more option.

In Tofo this year, there is a lot going on, and so much to do…daytime activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Surfing: for advanced surfers there is Tofinho, and for beginners, the Tofo Bay waves are perfect for learning
  • Fishing: you can go deep sea, on big marlin rigged boats, or rock and surf fishing, by foot. Or fishing in the huge water of the Inhambane Estuary, so much fun as little kingfish and snapper and all sorts maraud the fishing spots. All our fishing activities are tag and release, we are totally conservation and research-oriented
  • Diving: often rated as being in the very top few dive spots listed in the world, there is PADI Scuba, and ocean safari adventure trips on offer too.
  • Day on the Bay: the Inhambane estuary is full of surprises and wonder. Seahorses might be the main attraction, along with dolphins and fish, that move in and out of the estuary with the tides. Our dhow has sails and a motor! And we include snorkeling equipment. Bring your own drinks, we have coolers. Lunch and snacks are laid on by us.
  • Inhambane Town: this quaint and historic little seaside town has a magical air about it. Maybe it’s the huge cathedral that overlooks the bay? Maybe it is the ancient mosques? The romantically designed cinema? The ageing hotels? The chic little restaurants and bars? This is one cool little town to hang out in.

Night-time activities in Tofo are famous! December is really a fun month. And with the sun coming up before 4am, all-nighters always end up with a swim in the ocean! And if you are lucky enough to be here over New Year’s, the Ocean Festival run by Fatima’s each year, is a week-long blast.

You can find out more about each day time activity on offer by The Sardine News, on

Or, for all of the above activities, get in touch with Sean on or WhatsApp +27 79 326 9671. The Sardine team is in Mozambique this year, operating between Inhaca Island and the Bazaruto Archipelago.

We are to help make your dream holiday come true, in Mozambique this year.

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Our first two whale shark keyrings made from recycled plastic

From HDPE bottle caps to whale shark

From HDPE bottle caps to whale shark

From bottle caps to whale shark…

Recycling at grassroots level...a project by The Sardine News to learn as much as we can about recyclable plastics, and to share these resources with everyone we can.

Scene: Tofo, in southern Mozambique…famous for its whale sharks and other rich marine life. And a favourite for tourists with surfing, diving and fishing activities daily. Everybody loves Tofo!

Praia do Tofo. Incidentally, there have been heaps of whale shark sightings and encounters by lucky tourists this past few weeks here.
Praia do Tofo. Incidentally, there have been heaps of whale shark sightings and encounters by lucky tourists this past few weeks here.

And the Tofo market too.

Plastic bottle caps are everywhere. All types. All colours. It never took a few minutes for the kids to collect a few sacks for cash.

Mostly HDPE. Number 2. Verify by checking for the recycle symbol with the number or abbreviation HDPE contained therein. It is very irresponsible corporates that don’t tell us the plastic used, or who use mixed plastics that cannot be recycled, or who put additives into pure plastic rendering it useless except for gasification.

It’s mainly water and fizzy drink caps. The sheer amount of them lying around half-buried in the sand is boggling. It’s gonna take us years to pick them all up?!

In the meantime, Manecas, the artisanal woodcarver dude deep in the souvenir section of the market complex, was hard at work making a mould. Normally carving positives, it never took him long to adapt to carving out the negative, without a plug or any regular reference. Except me offering basic depths and shape, Manecas produced our first whale shark mould. He dried/scalded it in the fire to dry and seal it as best we could with our totally limited resources. It got a coat of some sort of paint.

Manecas working on the whale shark mould, made from a softwood called Mufurere.
Manecas working on the whale shark mould, made from a softwood called Mufurere.

We separated the many lids into their exact groups. And chose to work with the ones labelled as Number 2. HDPE. High-density polyurethane to be exact. This stuff melts at a very manageable temperature. In it’s purest form, you need only about 115 degrees Celsius to get working.

Ok, time to melt!

The fire had been taken care of by Madala, the Rasta musician who also makes art by hand, in the marketplace, for extra bucks. The “hot plate” thing we had been carrying from Jhb, where it was made by Johnny van Biljon at NuStyle Steel, to Botswana, went into the flames. Botswana is where we started this project (Plastic Recycling at Grass Roots). In the Tsodilo Hills, very, very far north. In deep bush.

It takes about 25 lids to cover the tray, and they melt fast, real fast. Especially once we really get going. The guys just mix it all together when it reaches melting point and becomes like a gluey paste. Then they scoop it out and shove it in the mould. Using a wet hammer, they knock the air bubbles out and as it dries, try to get a cool finish all round.

It’s important to note here, that HDPE, is easily melted, and so never has to near burning, which happens at about 160 degrees. And then, if it burns, releases CO2, which is not good for us. So a ventilated area is a pre-requisite in any event. The “hot plate” we use, keeps the flames well away from the melted plastic, and we have never to this day, set the plastic on fire. It is also important to note, that burning anything produces CO2. And that plastic is actually made up of the exact same composition as – WOOD! Yip, the wood was made into fossil fuels, we rip it out of the ground, and make it into plastic. When it burns, without additives, it is like burning wood. This is why it is ok, to gassify some plastics. The gasses produced ar O,s, some C’s and H’s. Inert. And the gas harvestable from a gasifier.

Back to our grassroots plastic recycling project turning bottle caps into little whale sharks…

Then, as it feels right, a few shakes by the tail, and out pops a really cute looking little whale shark. Sans middle fin and other detail.

Then it goes for finishing, where the edges are trimmed, and some sandpaper takes the roughness off to a point. It get’s a hole from Madala making it into the coolest keyring on the planet right now.

The whale shark finishing department. The plastic shavings and sandings are used again to make more whale sharks.
The whale shark finishing department. The plastic shavings and sandings are used again to make more whale sharks.

And…the final product. Well, these were number one and number two. And we have improved a tad. But that is not the point. We will get better, and make more beautiful artworks, but in the meantime, you cannot find a bottle cap ANYWHERE in the Tofo beach area.

The very first two HDPE whale sharks. Stoked!
The very first two HDPE whale sharks. Stoked!

Fortunately, we were camera out on this momentous first day of whale shark making with HDPE bottle caps.

And so you can watch the unfolding of it all too. So much fun.

Today we are making king mackerel plugs to make moulds in concrete with, as we up our game, day by day.

Click the following YouTube link to follow our video series on this grassroots plastic recycling education project by The Sardine News.

If you would like to assist or get involved with our grassroots plastic education project, please get in touch with Sean on or WhatsApp +27 79 326 971.


Mozamboogy! And the adventure of getting there! This festival rocked through the end of August ending on the most beautiful Spring Day of 2019.


We lumbered around the circle just outside of Hluhluwe. Came out the other side to find another procession of vehicles. Then another. And another. All stopped on the side of the road. Police had cordoned the exodus off, right on our journey to our first Mozamboogy.

Gave it a try, stating our SASRIA riot insurance would get us through. Nada. Then all of a sudden, around the same circle comes an FJ sported by the dude who owns Kosi Bay Lodge. He has clients also jammed and so sought out a route through. And we were invited to follow him around the riots. So now our procession was real impressive. Thirty or so cars and bakkies and trucks now took up position behind us and the FJ and off into the dust of Africa we went. And got through.


The border was reasonably quiet because of the riots hemming them off, but in an instant, it became very busy with all the new arrivals, and the queue rolled out for miles behind us. But the operation was slick and we only heard of a few people who could not make it across for that first night.


Bustling. The new bridge and road have this place cooking now. If you rock in from Jhb, there is so need to turn left up to Tofo or Vnx anymore. Punters can just turn right rather and in less than an hour, you are in the delightful Ponto. The gateway to Molongane. And the Elephant Reserve. And so much more Mozambique. So from Jhb to the border, might be 5 or 6 hours. Plus an hour south. Wow!


This always a favourite place for me. The tropical forest could just keep me there forever. Milkwoods. Ancient. One of the mornings a dewy air rolled in off the ocean. The forest went misty and mysterious. The animals were loving it, as were we.
Our campsite was delightful with electricity and close to amenities. The staff were friendly and funny and everything about the toilets and showers worked great. Clean was the word. Nothing ran out. The water was hot most times. The power stayed on!


Is a collection of fun and eccentric party people who hail from all corners to celebrate.
The organisers have done a great job. Again and again. The resort is so perfectly suited to the application. Punters went out diving and on ocean safaris. Others were kiteboarding and surfing. Fishing even. The beach. The beautiful empty pure beach. Was filled with pretty people each day.
The venue sucked up the 1000 plus guests easily enough, with space for more next year. And so next year. There is always a rumour around that another big new development might make a problem for Mozamboogy, but in this place, the last thing you bet on, is a rumour. And so next year, Ponto Molongane will definitely be hosting the Mozamboogy another time.


Trance: wow this music can get heavy but with no lack of takers, this dance floor thumped the entire time.
Beach Bar: DJ Tushi stole the show. He performed! And luckily kept the standard very high in the face of a few more mellow performances by some others. I observed, that if a DJ does not look up at his audience, and make at least some eye contact, the dance floor empties rapidly. Especially if the music is changed too far from current stuff that everyone was digging already. And so many exoduses up and down the beach bar stairs could be observed.

And a little Ponto Molangane market gallery…


Mozamboogy run a really decent online show – with website and facey pages. The facey group dedicated to the festival was real enertaining too! Like a running commentary! But either way, it was easy to book and pay online, even choose from the many options available for things-to-do in Ponto Molongane, and find out all you need to know.

Check it out at

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An Okavango hippopotomus lurks in the shallows

Beware the hippopotamus – tales from the Okavango

Beware the hippopotamus – tales from the Okavango

On the bank of the Kovango River in the quaint Shakawe village, where the Kalahari Desert meets the Okavango Delta, sits Dithlabi Lodge.
Dithlapi means “fish” around here. And so within minutes, we had our rigs rigged and got down to the river’s edge. Standing the rudimentary 2 metres back, we enjoyed a sunset session, enduring three more mock charges from tigerfish.
But these were not the mock charges we were worried about.

The next afternoon, we got back from the bush, and lo and behold, a huge hippo had moved into our bend in the river, for a feed. The girls that worked at the lodge were lining the verandah, as three little boats were edging themselves around the corner, right to where the hippo was reasonably obscured from their vision.

In the front was a little fishing guy, one paddle, which he used as a pole to move through the sandbanks and channels. Behind him was a fully loaden vessel, about 12 ft long, also paddle powered, but with two crew. The papyrus reeds were loaded so high that the boat was almost taking water. Behind them was another papyrus harvester, but he was alone and did not have that much load.

The fleet was agonisingly slow, and the confrontation was inevitable. They were on a direct course to intercept the huge hippo. One of the girls explained, “We don’t like that person!”, referring to the hippo as a person is kind of how it goes around here. All sorts of clicks and clucks and gasps of alarm rattled out as the hippo noticed the tiny fleet and turned to face them.
The front boat saw the hippo. They were 20 metres apart. It looked all under control to me.


The hippo barked a huge bark, something I’ve never heard before, and charged! That hippo moved so fast and the bark had become a fully-fledged growl and water became spray and that hippo accelerated like nothing I’ve seen before.

Thankfully, it was a mock charge. It ended as soon as it started. It was a good ten metres that he covered though, in a second! Those three boats were now moving real quickly in reverse, getting themselves back out of sight and around the corner to relative safety. The hippo let out a normal but agitated grunt, grunt, grunt, turned away, and disappeared, with a flop, into the main channel leading away from the three very nervous looking captains.

The girls all sighed in relief and were immediately joking and laughing about it. What fun living like this!
After a short while, the fleet resumed sail and headed back across to where we were waiting to laugh some more with them.
A crocodile then came cruising down the river to visit too. Elephants were all over and around us last night, as evident from their footprints and fresh droppings.
And yet all weekend, local kids were swimming and catching crabs and things, in the very same piece of water?!

The contrasts of Africa?!

Our stay at Dithlapi Lodge was relaxing and the view out front was like a huge National Geographic TV set, constantly playing out interesting wild-life scenes all day and night. A huge full moon highlighted each night for us too.

The staff were very entertaining as we witnessed how their lives are so intertwined with the wildlife of the Okavango Delta system. There is a lot of human-animal conflict, especially with the ever-expanding population of elephants that are literally taking over the towns and villages in some places in northern Botswana.

Everyone is trying to just get on with it, living together, but the incident as described above gives you an idea of the day-to-day challenges living in a place like this brings. It is pretty darn wild out here, that’s for sure.

That all said, Dithlapi Lodge in Shakawe is a fantastic launching pad at the very top of the Okavango panhandle.

The border into Namibia and more excellent wildlife and fishing is barely 15 minutes drive away. And a ferry can take you across the Kavango River into the wildlands where nobody hardly gets to. It is possible, with the correct kit, to drive across into the East. And all the way to Kasane, linking up with the Chobe reserve road as it comes north. But it’s very hard going, and extremely tough on vehicles.

To get in touch with Lampie at Dithlapi, use the following Facebook link.

Or get in touch Sean on WhatsApp +27 79 326 9671 or email to chat about travelling and fishing the deep Okavango Delta waters on Northen Botswana.

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