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Grunter Alley ambush by Goby One Kanobi

Grunter Alley in the Umzimkulu Estuary

Grunter Alley ambush by Goby One Kanobi

Grunter Alley ambush by Goby One Kanobi: choose the right days in the KZN Winter and this is what you are in for…sunny skies. Warm and clean water. And. Winter gamefish!

Winter Gamefish

Already the garrick have come inside and have been terrorising the many shoals of mullet and little silver bream. And there have been a few concerning sightings of GTs too. Big ones! These guys are nocturnal in the estuaries and those big explosions that keep you up at night when visiting here – can be blamed squarely on that gang.

The zambezi’s have been consistent too. Making their appearances also mainly during the readily available night time slots.

Many kob have been getting caught out on the sandspit. Yes, at night time. And man-oh-man it’s hard work. You got to set up and prepare for the all-night boogie if you want one of those huge fish. Get in touch if you have what it takes.

Shaun, David and Kiran

All the way down from Jhb, these guys know how to time it right They also had a few days so were able to plan around the weather.

We fished the mouth area of the Umzimkulu River estuary in Port Shepstone, KZN, on this fine day. Since this was the best area as we vied for the warmer, more fish-filled water. Melting snow on the Drakensberg has been keeping the upper reaches of the estuary extremely cold. Like 13 degrees!

And so we trolled a few lures from Umzimkulu Adrenalin down to the chosen spot. Setup fishing camp, and gave it a shot.

Enjoy this smash hit featuring Goby One Kanobi and the Spotted Grunters…

Goby One Kanobi

Sometimes we just get walk-in volunteers here at The Sardine News. And on this shoot, none other than Goby One Kanobi himself popped in front of the lens. For more than one appearance.

This guy is so cute and is an absolute natural on camera. He got all the moves and love the mirror reflection of himself in the camera lens.

Thanks Goby – I know exactly where to find you for next time!

African Damsel

An African Damsel glides across the screen in scene 2. Having taken the form of a graceful and regal African Spadefish. In the estuary! She moves so incredibly slowly, no wonder the spearos can’t miss them.

The Cape Stumpnose community was represented too. But there were notably less small fish that each of the last few trips we have made down this way,

And this is why…

The Spotted Grunter ambush position

Grunter Alley. Or more technically known as first bank. Is where the big grunter hang out – in ambush position. As the tide wafts water in through the mouth, it spills out all sorts of crunchy crustaceany morsels that these fish will eat. They will not eat a sardine bait when they are in this lively ambush state (As seen on camera).

I would only chuck a fly at these guys. Or a Dirty Prawn Umzimkulu Special bucktail, worked exactly right. To mimic a prawn bouncing along getting dragged with the tide. My cameras have picked up many large prawns coming IN the mouth on the pushing tide. Huge prawns like 6 inches long. Coming flying past and into the estuary. Coming to breed and populate.

And get eaten by these big grunter.

Wildeperd

There is a sheepshead in Oz, and another exact-looking species up the West Coast. Deemed to all be different. But these three fish all look exactly the same to me. They act the same too – very camera shy, but quite aggressive nonetheless. I have only filmed wildeperd underwater in the estuary a few times over the last few years. They normally hang out on the backline reefs and deeper.

Yes, you can call them Zebrafish!

And Kiran caught and released a healthy teenager, at the end of the day.

Great job Kiran!

By The Sardine News


Rightio, this is definitely the time to be fishing. After the floods and all the craziness before that, you deserve to take a day or two off and come and hunt estuary gamefish in the name of research – with us. We release almost all our fish. Oftentimes with an ORI tag in it.

Bring your own I am running out!

Fishing and cruising activities are found right HERE on the Umzmkulu Adrenalin website. We got accommodation options at the Umzimkulu Marina, and Spillers House. And restaurants all around us including Garlic n Naan and Fish on the River.

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Alchemy can save our KZN estuaries – featuring Benoit Leroy video

Save our Estuaries with Benoit Leroy

Alchemy can save our KZN estuaries – featuring video with Benoit Leroy

Here in KZN, along the eastern seaboard of South Africa, we have systematically destroyed 99% of our estuaries.
Agriculture did this. We did agriculture.
Swathes of indigenous thickets and bush were ruthlessly replaced by invasive plants. Sugar. Wattle. Bluegum (these days it’s macadamias).
This was done before in colonial expansionist times. Nobody seemed to have a clue as to what they were doing to this planet.
All so that instead of walking places and growing our own food at home – we take taxis, cars and buses, work as wage slaves, to go buy food miles away in a grocery store?! Destroying our very habitat with each purchase.

And making those in the current revenue streams and in power, richer. And you, poorer as your earthly inheritance is destroyed for profit centric individuals and entities. Who got their positions from politics or inheritance in the first place.

Indigenous destruction

The removal of this indigenous buffer of bush has made for the inability of the earth in this region to absorb flood waters. Now it just runs straight down along the furrows and canals made by these profiteering farmers to remove the exact same water we need to stay there. Into the river that has been silted up by this exact practice. It bursts its banks. And people die.

This is what we have done.

Old habits

Things have changed. We now do have all the clues we need to make better decisions. We do not have to walk in the footsteps of our uninformed ancestors.

We have got these days, technology. Which brings forth a myriad of options on how to tackle a problem. We do not need to go back in time and use archaic failed methods to remedy modern human-made problems.

We do not need our last free-flowing estuary to suffer the same fate as all the 99% of the other estuaries have faced. Total commensurate destruction. By restricting the tidal and flood pulse. With unnatural barriers. Concrete.

We do not need to live with invasive species that have destroyed the very land which we inherited in perfect shape a hundred years ago.

We do not need to continue our destructive ways with the earth, it’s rivers and the oceans.

Desalination

Desalination. Will save the day here in Port Shepstone. Will bring water. Will bring hydrogen. Will bring prosperity to the area.

And will restore the estuaries.

But will not line the pockets of the surveyors, lobbyists, scientists, developers, politicians and others who rely on the archaic and completely unjust colonial system to maintain their big lifestyles on.

These profit-driven people want to build a concrete dam wall, or weir, right across the mighty Umzimkulu River. To abstract even more water from the already ailing river. Instead of a desalination plant.

For the same money!

Our money, to be precise.

Enjoy the picture show…

The big lie

And so here lies yet another aspect to the questionable problem of saltwater ingression.

The big lie. Saltwater intrusion to the St. Helen’sPump Station, 9kms upriver.

Even carp and bass get caught below the pump station in the dry season.

Of all the estuaries we have destroyed in KZN Natal, the Umzimkulu still holds out. As the last free-flowing river of any significance. Carp (which is invasive) - like our indigenous freshwater species caught and pictured here, use the flood pulse and free-flowing river to survive in. This fish was caught way down from the St. Helens Pump Station. In the dry season. When there is meant to be saltwater ingression. Clearly there is not.
Of all the estuaries we have destroyed in KZN Natal, the Umzimkulu still holds out. As the last free-flowing river of any significance. Carp (which is invasive) – like our indigenous freshwater species caught and pictured here, use the flood pulse and free-flowing river to survive in. This fish was caught way down from the St. Helens Pump Station. In the dry season. When there is meant to be saltwater ingression. Clearly, there is not.

In my opinion, not a grain of sea salt has been near the pump station EVER! Prove me wrong. Because I know it was raw sewage being sucked out of the river and showing urine as salt. I know because I live here. Sewage pumps into the river all day every day because local government has failed to manage the once-functioning system year after year now. Spending exorbitant amounts on temporary non-functional and wasteful, environmentally damaging berms. Totally illegally.

Zambezi sharks have only this free-flowing river in KZN in which to still breed. St. Lucia is open now but it was closed for so long that all those Zambezi lost their breeding ground. When the estuary was opened recently by conservation activists, hundreds of pup Zambezi sharks we seen everywhere in the following days. These big mommas must have been waiting and waiting and waiting. No fair.

A little baby Zambezi taken on rod and line in the Umzimkulu River. It was released healthy and spitting mad! About 7kgs. At 20 to 30cm per year, this Zambezi in the Umzimkulu would be about 30kgs, two years later.
A little baby Zambezi taken on rod and line in the Umzimkulu River. It was released healthy and spitting mad! About 7kgs. At 20 to 30cm per year, this Zambezi in the Umzimkulu would be about 30kgs, two years later. Without this estuary, this guy would have spoken Pondo.

Turtles, all 4 species we get here, use the Umzimkulu, to rid themselves of unwanted parasites. They come inside the estuary for weeks. Venturing right up to the freshwater, where the parasites can’t live. And they fall right off! Like a carwash for turtles.

Meet Tripod the Turtle. He was unfortunately hit by a boat going too fast in the estuary, and lost a leg. Hence the nickname Tripod. He was rescued by SeaWorld, but died a month later. No fair.
Meet Tripod the Turtle. He was unfortunately hit by a boat going too fast in the estuary, and lost a leg. Hence the nickname Tripod. He was rescued by SeaWorld and taken to Durban, but died a month later. No fair.

The fabulously difficult fish to catch – our indigenous Ox-eye Tarpon, lives way upriver, in the fresh, But cruises right on down to the salt to breed and spawn.

Estuaries like the Umzimkulu used to sustain 100 x more life. 100 years ago. We are down to 99% of our previously perfectly functioning estuaries. By building dams and interfering with nature
Estuaries like the Umzimkulu used to sustain 100 x more life. 100 years ago. We are at current down to 99% of our previously perfectly functioning estuaries (KZN). By building dams ,farming sugar and other cash crops. And interfering with nature.

“It’s not sea salt! It’s sewage.”

I was here when the wolf cry went out. We tasted the water even! I know what saltwater tastes like. This was sewage water in our drinking water system. It smelt. Stank actually.

I would like to make an appeal for the salt level records of the pump station to be made available to the public. It is in the public interest to see how the decision to spend R200 million or more on damming a fully-functional estuary, comes about.

UGU Leaks

Any water problems we have here are actually due to the thousands of leaks all around the UGU District. Like the one under the low-level bridge across the river – over two years flat our blasting water back into where it came from. At our expense.

April 2022 – outta sight, outta mind?

These are the problems that needs to be fixed. The system will operatee fine without the leaks. Wait until you read about St. Helen’s waterfall (coming soon).

October 2021 – same leak

How does anyone think that extracting more water from the already suffering system, will help the future? The river only has so much water and we have polluted and extracted it to a maximum threshold.

Fix the pipes! Use your endless budget to fix all that is broken. Use it to embrace and deploy the best and most relevant technologies to our problem here.

Summary

This is not the current government’s fault. But it is their duty to fix it. Or what are doing in office in the first place?

Advice to kids – don’t go into development, surveying or construction. Do research and conservation. Horticulture and aquaponics. Botany. Biology. Anything rather than end up like these guilty parties.

Use concrete for the right things. Not profit.

Words by Sean Lange. Video by Benoit Leroy produced by The Sardine News.

Come and check the river out yourself with Umzimkulu Adrenalin.

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Sardine situation? This photo tells it all…

Sardine Situation July 2022

Sardine situation? This photo tells all…

The sardine situation this year is vastly different to that of last at this time.

A sardine spy sent this picture in the other day. You can hardly see much. There are sardines. Way out the back. And there is the Indian Ocean alright. But it’s dirty!

And although the recent flooding has most to do with it, our infrastructure’s inability to cope with flood conditions is all to blame. More specifically, the government’s complete failure to maintain and upgrade the floodwater and sewage systems with time and urban growth.

Whole houses and roads fall away to nothing. Because there was nothing underneath them to hold them in place in the first place. Entire homes and streets were washed completely away. Development and urbanisation has outpaced the ability of the government to keep upgrading the infrastructure that all this new development relies on.

Why?

Well because the ruling party have absolutely crippled the state. And its ability to function as a cognitive whole that garners goodwill and respect from the people by serving the people.

By exploiting the system that is meant to maintain the infrastructure, they have failed the people in their entirety. No water. Rolling blackouts. Looting. Demonstrations. Road closures.

No matter which class you are from, upper, middle or lower, this government does not care about you. It only cares about its ability to advance itself as the ruling political party.

Politics is to blame. The fact that a ruling party can appoint sorely qualified or completely unqualified personnel in key positions. This is the end of any credibility a democratic society can believe in or be a part of.

Let the best person for the job, do the job.

Brown water – what is it?

When an entire mountainside collapses into a mudslide and washes into the ocean during a flood – what effect on the seawater would that have? Which officials gave the permission to build so dangerously?

When an entire chemical factory is looted and burned by an unhappy populace, and the chemicals leak into the bathing beaches of Durban and surrounding tourist towns- who did that?

When the sewage that is supposed to be filtered and purified and put back into nature, does not happen and raw sewage perpetually goes into the stormwater drains, our rivers and into the sea – who did that? (see Margate Beach being polluted by non-functioning UGU sewage pumps in the gallery below 1. load-shedding rendered the main pumps useless you can see the raw sewage bubbling out of the overflow valve, and flowing right into the Margate Estuary. 2 It flows unimpeded down towards the coast. 3. passes the holiday accommodation area featuring dead fish floating and being eaten by birds 4. the raw untreated stinking sewage spills out right into the sea where tourists are bathing – the inshore counter-currents take this sewage to neighbouring beaches like Uvongo).

So when a family of 24 come on holiday to Uvongo, and 23 end up in the hospital poisoned from swimming in the lagoon – who let that happen?

When 99% of our estuaries are rendered completely non-functional by erosion and fatal land management- what happens when they flood? They break their banks and cause untold chaos and misery. And death. Who failed us there?

When an illegal berm that threatens the estuarine functioning of the mighty Umzimkulu River is procured by UGU and gets washed away within a week of installation – where does all that soil go? Who did that? And the R5 000 000 odd that it costs each time? They have built it again and again…who did that?

The government did all of these things.

Well, that is what we are dealing with. A solid band of brown dirty disgusting polluted and stinky water that is now choking the inshore surf zone waters of this entire coastline. Countercurrents and prevailing onshore winds keep it right under our noses. Until finally the Agulhas Current can dissolve and hide it from us forever.

So what is it actually again?

Well, it will definitely give you an earache. First-hand experience. Was deaf for months from treatments. Blew every speaker I could find.

It is made up of engine oil and other grime from the roads and floors everywhere. Its dirt and dust from every town in the country. It is rubbish and discarded everything. It is fertilizer and pesticides. It is rotting foodstuffs and decaying packaging. It is lethal hospital waste. It is toxic chemicals from that burned plant in Durban. It is untreated sewage.

And it’s keeping the sardines out. Sardines swim in clean clear water when they come on holiday. Not the stinking mess left here by the people in charge.

Just like tourists.

And that is the current sardine situation.

What’s nextfor the sardine situation?

Well, the prevailing east winds have been extra-mean recently. These onshore winds cause upswelling and blows the dirty stuff right back into the beaches and estuaries. Then the west winds come along and reverse the procedure. Until all the brown stuff is finally dissipated into the Agulhas Current and taken into the depths. This would normally have taken a month or so. But with the double-whammy storms this year, we have maybe 20x more pollution to deal with.

As for the future. Well, we need to restore our rivers and estuaries. Catchment areas. And floodplains. This is the system that would quite easily handle floods like the last two. But as greedy humans, we have ripped out all the indigenous vegetation that acted as the primary sieve and sponge for these radical flood conditions. This savannah-like bush was insensitively removed and sugar cane and other cash crops planted. Pesticides were used to increase production in the 70s. And demand-induced careless ploughing and drainage saw topsoil heading for the coast. The next barrier to disaster – the flood plains are now golf courses, farms or houses. And finally, the rivers and estuaries are silted up so much that 99% of our estuaries in KZN do not function as estuaries at all. They have all been systematically destroyed. They break their banks and cause water to divert through towns, and settlements – undermining roads, buildings, and foundations at huge cost in life and property damage.

We really need a responsible government already. If we don’t stop immediately and reverse the damage we have done to 99% of our rivers and estuaries in KZN, then we have failed ourselves. Miserably. The knock-on effect will wipe out every endemic species that use our rivers and estuaries as breeding grounds and nurseries. With devastating effects on the ocean environment and its inhabitants waiting on down the line.

By Sean Lange


Never miss a sardine situation update by tuning in to The Sardine News. Where we run a Sardine Sightings map each year. Making it easy for you to compare seasons.

If you are in the Port Shepstone area, Umzimkulu Adrenalin can take you out on the water. Ocean Safari, fishing and estuary trips – depending on tides and conditions. We have accommodation at the Umzimkulu Marina and at Spillers House. And great food at The Port Captain and Fish on the River.

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Hybrid Desalination proposal to UGU by Professor Turton

Hybrid Desalination proposal to UGU by Professor Anthony Turton

Hybrid Desalination proposal to UGU by Professor Turton

Hybrid Desalination proposal to UGU by Professor Turton: Professor Anthony Turton is back with us again!

This time, in a constructive and positive proposal to our local UGU Municipality, addressing the current concerns over water supply and security.

NUMSA

NUMSA are the trade union for Eskom employees. NUMSA has made incredibly unreasonable demands including double-digit wage increases. And double housing and vehicle subsidies. And much more?!

These were summarily refused. And Eskom employees, who earn an average of R61 000 per month, are torching the place. This seems a high salary and it is because the fat cats take up to R7 000 000 per year!

And it’s these rotten, stinking eggs, that are NUMSA.

Sabotage. Strikes. Violence.

Equals.

Rolling blackouts.

When the power goes out, water extraction, purification and sewage systems fail. And we get no water or dirty water, and the shit flows into the rivers and onto the beaches.

So, with the background to our water situation out of the way, let’s proceed with the proposal by Professor Anthony Turton.

Enjoy the presentation…click play below…

Hybrid desalination video by Professor Anthony Turton

Short-term Solutions

All of this said, however, does not mean you have to sit in the dark for now. The Sardine News has put together a solar starter kit (you just need to get a panel and a battery), that includes all you need to watch tv, work on your computer, power some lights and charge all your batteries. Maybe even your small fridge.

In the box is an inverter. A real powerful little guy rated at 800w! These things at this power rating used to cost an absolute fortune 5 years ago. There is also the neatest little charge controller. Which regulates the power from the panel. And has 4 USB ports built right in. Featuring the coolest digital display feeding you all the necessary status information about the system. At your fingertips. A bundle of cables and clips, and instructions (online), complete the package.

Delivery costs R99 (PostNet).

You need to buy your own battery. They are too heavy to post! And solar panels are readily available online and everywhere these days. A 100w panel will power the above system. The alternative is to buy a battery charger and plug it into the mains. So that when the power comes back on, it automatically restores the battery’s spent charge.

This little system will run your basic requirements for a good 3 to 6 hours. Or more, if you are careful and monitor and restrict usage where possible. This is how the starter pack teaches you the ropes. At minimal expense. Arming you for your very easy and profitable divorce from Eskom.

Divorcing Eskom

To power your fridge and geyser indefinitely on solar, you just need to spend more money. On panels and batteries. And your inverter. Or just get another inverter and isolate and dedicate circuits. Like one for the fridge. One for the geyser. You can also install a solar heater on your roof. Especially here in Africa where the sun shines so much.

The challenges are the geyser and the fridges. Although you would be surprised as I was to find that smaller fridge/freezers use very little power overall. (When I lived in the bush, we would fire up the generator upon setting up camp. Fill the chest freezer with water bottles. And let it rip. After that first day or so, the water turned to ice. And we could turn the generator off. That freezer and that ice inside there lasts a week if treated nicely.) This kept all our supplies fresh and cool. When we motored, the chest freezer was run on the vehicle’s powerful inverter and so on we kept on keeping on. Months.

The options for heating water are far more challenging. In the bush, we used the ever-present campfire. And make no mistake, that when you turn on the gas in your kitchen, you may aswell be lighting a campfire. Indoors! The gas propaganda was so successful (pre-internet), that everyone, including you most likely, thinks that gas is cleaner than electricity. It’s not. It is terrible stuff. Poisonous. Dangerous. And please do not for one second forget that it is a fossil fuel! It is also how the fatcats get fatter.

On another side note, it costs about the same to boil a litre of water, with gas or electricity.

So how do we get a hot shower? Or a piping hot espresso?

Electric shower heads that take cold water in one side and spit out reasonably hot water from the other, are back in vogue. I have been shocked to shit by one of these things though. But it was worth the shower so I just stood there taking it! This was Mozambique where the entire country is not earthed and nobody cooks barefoot. You wear no shoes outside, but when you come inside, shoes go on. Anyway, the newer varieties seem damn cool. They use very little power so you could easily power your shower, with a starter system.

Espresso, however, is not that easy. Coffee machines eat electricity. Do not use one. Until they come up with an energy saver version. You are going to end up on fire either way – a little gas fire right in your kitchen. I have seen one-cup water boilers that the CIA must surely also use for torture. That work on 12v – I am sure the CIA plug theirs into the cigarette lighter.

There certainly is a market for a 12v water heater here in South Africa. Like a well-insulated earn or something innovative. There are some interesting products on Alibaba. Along with many camping and tiny house solutions.

Watch this space!

Follow this link to another Sardine News article named Working on Sunshine, which lists many appliances and their power requirements.

The Sardine News solar gallery

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More sardines coming: Main shoals confirmed at Haga Haga!

The Sardine News by Chelsea Dog

More sardines coming: Main shoals confirmed at Haga Haga!

More sardines coming: Main shoals confirmed at Haga Haga!

Haga Haga is north of East London but slightly south of the old Transkei. And the sheer size of the shoals is what we are actually reporting today. We have our Sardine Spies jumping up and down online as they track this immense body of fish on its northward journey.

We need to remind ourselves – which we can do right here (at last year’s Sardine Sightings map), that its only just turned July! The sardine season 2022 is but a puppy and according to these trusted reports that we have just been receiving, the main show is still coming.

Predators

Humpback Whales chow sardines too! And many other predators are reported to be seen hammering these very big shoals, that are currently on their merry way. What we have seen so far is but the tip of the iceberg. Pilot schools.

Tuna lead the gamefish assault out there – they are so fast and wily. But as the shoals get herded shallower, garrick and kob are waiting in ambush. And at this time of the year, there are still the big couta around. As can be seen on https://masterwatermen.co.za. The couta’s delicious cousin – the queen mackerel, will also be lining up in attack formation.

Along with – the cetacean gang. Humpbacks and Bryde’s Whales eat up entire shoals of sardines at a time. Narrowly missing snorkelers on the odd very rare occasion! But it’s really the highly intelligent and cooperative dolphins – common and bottlenose, that do most of the herding and corralling.

Although in actual fact, the entire predator gang work together. Even the whales throw up curtain bubbles to hem the panicked shoals off completely from one side. Making it easy pickings for everyone. Teamwork.

But it’s the gannets that can really steal the shoal as they plummet down into the depths at Mach speed. And then become penguins! They swim around down there like as if they are flying in the air. Picking off sardines and wolfing them down underwater! They can hold their breaths for ages!

This has been the scene down at Haga Haga, right on the southern border of the Kei. And off Port St Johns to a lesser extent. But the operators down that way have been experiencing another great season so far – are posting flat out on social media. Giving us all a taste of what’s to come here in KZN.

Where Umzimkulu Adrenalin are standing by to get you out into this crazy action. Mask and snorkels are an option, not compulsory. Just being on the boat and right there, witnessing the even just from closeup, is way enough! We have self-catering accommodation at the Umzimkulu Marina, and a BnB and Backpackers – at Spillers House. Both right on the water in Port Shepstone.

The Sardine News by Chelsea Dog

Just before we received confirmation of the huge shoals coming past Haga Haga, Chelsea put this YouTube report together…

Chelsea reads The Sardine News on YouTube