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1000s of Cape Gannets dive-bombing in Qora, Deep Transkei

15 May 2024 Sardine Report 1000s of Cape Gannets in Qora

1000s of Cape Gannets dive-bombing in Qora, Deep Transkei

1000s of Cape Gannets dive-bombing in Qora, Deep Transkei: the iconic and beautifully choreographed gannet population descends on the sardine run first. Every time. These are our main indicators. That along with the cetaceans, sharks, fish and other marine mega-fauna, make up all the predators that are chasing after the sardines each year.

When all these guys come together, you are guaranteed a front-row seat at The Greatest Shoal on Earth.

CLICK HERE for the Sardine Run 2024 Sightings Map Page.

Enjoy the report and thank you Kevin in Qora, deep Transkei…

More about Gannets

Cape gannets (Morus capensis) possess several remarkable features that set them apart:

  1. Colonial Nesting: These seabirds breed in large colonies, often on remote islands or rocky cliffs. Their communal nesting behaviour is a spectacle to behold.
  2. Distinct Appearance: Cape gannets have striking plumage, with snowy white bodies, black wingtips, and a golden-yellow crown. Their eyes are surrounded by a distinctive blue ring.
  3. Precise Diving Skills: When hunting for sardines, they perform spectacular plunges from great heights, folding their wings and torpedoing into the water. Their streamlined bodies and keen eyesight aid in precise targeting.
  4. Monogamous Pairs: Cape gannets form monogamous pairs during the breeding season. They engage in elaborate courtship displays, reinforcing their bond through synchronized head movements and calls.
  5. Diet: Their diet consists of small fish, especially sardines and anchovies. They rely on the annual sardine run off the South African coast for abundant food.
  6. Conservation Concerns: Unfortunately, Cape gannets face threats such as overfishing, pollution, and habitat disturbance. Conservation efforts are crucial to protect these magnificent birds.

In summary, Cape gannets combine elegance, precision, and ecological significance, making them a celebrated and vital part of South Africa’s marine ecosystem.

Cape gannets are attentive parents, and their chick-rearing process involves several key steps:

  1. Nesting Sites: Cape gannets breed in large colonies on rocky cliffs or remote islands. They choose nesting sites carefully to avoid predators and ensure proximity to food-rich waters.
  2. Courtship and Pair Bonding: During the breeding season, male and female gannets engage in courtship displays. They perform synchronized head movements and calls to strengthen their pair bond.
  3. Egg Laying: After courtship, the female lays a single egg. Both parents take turns incubating the egg, which typically lasts around 44 days.
  4. Incubation Shifts: The parents alternate incubation duties. While one incubates, the other forages for food. Their precise shifts ensure constant warmth for the developing chick.
  5. Hatching and Chick Care: Once the egg hatches, the chick emerges. It is initially covered in soft down feathers. The parents feed the chick regurgitated fish, providing essential nutrients.
  6. Growth and Development: Over the next few weeks, the chick grows rapidly. It develops waterproof feathers and gains strength. The parents continue to feed it until it becomes independent.
  7. Fledging: Around 90 days after hatching, the chick is ready to fledge. It takes its first flight, leaving the nest. The parents continue to provide food during this transition.
  8. Post-Fledging Period: After fledging, young gannets spend several years at sea, honing their fishing skills. Eventually, they return to the colony to breed, continuing the cycle.

In summary, Cape gannets exhibit dedicated parenting, ensuring the survival and success of their chicks in the challenging marine environment. ?? : https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/c/cape-gannet/ https://www.sardinerunpe.co.za/

Affiliated YouTube Channels

https://youtube.com/@waterwoes – complain here

https://youtube.com/@thesardinenews – neva miss out

https://youtube.com/@mydotackletalk – highly technical sport fishing

https://youtube.com/@Brucifire – entertaining surf reporting

https://youtube.com/@surflaunchingsouthernafrica – getting out there safely

Affiliated websites

https://umzimkulu.co.za – self-catering right on the Umzimkulu River
https://umzimkuluadrenalin.co.za – sardine run coming up
https://thesardine.co.za – never miss a single sardine
https://masterwatermen.co.za – news from deep down
https://brucifire.co.za – surf and conditions reporting
https://fishbazaruto.com – your dreams are out there

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Sharks on my Sonar!

SHARKS on my SONAR

Sharks on my Sonar!

Sharks on my Sonar!: we head out to the Noosa River in Australia for this story…where we get to see how Humminbird have perfected their sonar picture underwater.

It is true genius. The machine doesn’t lie. The sharks on the screen are no doubt sharks! As a bunch of Zambezis aka Bull Sharks, are attracted by splashing in the water of this wild river.

And this is all recorded for us ALL to see…that sonar can undoubtedly detect a shark. Especially in calm waters like the Noosa River.

Enjoy the display…

Sharks on my Sonar!

Sharks on my Sonar!

Here is another great article referencing the same fact.

https://recfishwest.org.au/news/spotting-sharks-on-your-sounder-to-help-reduce-bite-offs/

Sharks Board

I first approached the sharks board, back in the ‘2000s’, about replacing their defunct killing methods, with sonar detection. It’s the most straightforward solution under the sun. Sheldon Dudley of the sharks board vehemently opposed my suggestion back in the 2000’s. With him was Graham Charter. The other guys just did nothing. Said nothing. Many meetings went nowhere. It was not their idea, and so was not going to be deployed.

The main excuse offered by the team back then, was that sharks have no swim bladders, and so could not be detected with sonar?!

I never wanted anything except some involvement. However, as it turned out – it was not the right channel to go down, to try to effect change.

My Motivation

I had back then recently come across an entire pod of dead dolphins. On the back of a shark’s board bakkie. I was furious. And I still am. Those dolphins died (suffocated to death), in the shark nets of Umtentweni. Whilst there were zero beach users at Umtentweni. It was a Monday morning. None of us were even surfing. Nobody was using the ocean at Umtentweni that fateful day.

During the week there might be a few surfers. And on weekends the weekend warriors. Some families come down on weekends to enjoy the granny pool or the shore break.

Are these enough people, this risk so big, that a whole family of dolphins…must die a horrid death in gill nets?

Sonar alternatives

The Australians also kill bull sharks and the like, willy nilly, with shark nets. Archaic gill nets. That kill everything. They kill whales over there in the nets as successfully as our guys. They also use drum lines to actually catch the sharks, and then drag them away from their homes. Forced relocation. This does not work since bull sharks always hang around their own river mouths.

But the Ozzies have developed something clever called Clever Buoy. I am not sure why they don’t use off-the-shelf available sonar equipment. To mitigate development and deployment expenses. But they are definitely on the right track.

Municipalities and you pay for the shark nets

Yip, you are the ultimate payer of the death nets strewn along the coastline of Kwazulu Natal in South Africa. Along with your municipality.

The shark’s board costs hundreds of millions per year. With this money, they kill (annual average):

Sharks Board kill rate average per annum
Sharks Board kill rate average per annum. That is 320 odd sharks per year. Almost one per day.

Harmless Catches

And these they call…”HARMLESS CATCHES”?!?!

Note the lack of whales in this chart. I have interviews, photographs and video to prove otherwise…

Please see the following irrefutable proof that the shark nets have been killing baby whales…here in South Africa. And in Australia.

shark nets Archives – The Sardine News

So all these animals must die…and nobody is swimming anywhere. The water is chock full of ecoli and other nasties right now too. Nobody should be near the ocean. And nobody should be killing sharks in these wayward flood conditions. Brown water to the horizon.

These conditions prevail for months at a time. The nets should be OUT!

More alternatives

Yes, there are more ways to stay safe…

  1. Exclusion nets: deployed perfectly at Fish Hoek (Cape Town) recently, these are proven winners. And these were deployed successfully long before there was even a sharks board. At Umtentweni Beach, and most other popular tourist spots along KZN, still have remnants of the infrastructure used. Concrete pillars with poles set into them. And tennis court netting stretched across them. Stopping any access for sharks. All the while allowing nature to continue along around them unimpeded
  2. Shark shields: for a tiny fraction of the cost of running the entire sharks board, they could equip all ocean users with shark shield devices. They are proven to work and are really cheap nowadays. Get it from the lifeguards and return it after swimming. They could even be rented out.
  3. Tracking devices: many great whites have already been tagged with devices that track their activity in real-time. Right now you can go to the Ocearch Project, and see where the whites are congregating. Let’s just tag the tigers and Zambezis too? I notice some Tiger Sharks, and even whale sharks have been tagged and can now be tracked too on that website. Go check it out, incredible technology applied so well. Some data is old. But new pings are popping all the time.

I have given up on trying to convince the sharks board to stop their heinous acts. We need to get rid of them ourselves somehow. Working with municipalities directly or something.

Please get in touch with Sean on +27793269671 or umzimkulu@gmail.com to discuss any of this further. Especially if you work at a municipality and want to save the people’s money from being used to kill marine life. The backbone of our tourism industry here in KZN.

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So why do the sardine shoals not come at all some years?

A bumper sardine run 2020 leaves some unanswered but relevant questions about our annual sardine migration and who gets to harvest and who are in lockdown

So why do the sardine shoals not come at all some years?

So why do the sardine shoals not come at all some years?: Well I got a call from Mr Adam Kamdar of Township Hyper yesterday evening. Great dude and really in the know in the fishing scene.  I had guests and dogs and things going and I could hardly hear, but his question went along the lines of…

“Sean, do you think this Covid thing was the cause of the bumper sardine run?”

Well ok that pushed just about all my buttons, so here is the full answer Adam…

AIS

AIS is the theme to this quasi-sardine report compiled as a result of the big question Adam has posed.

You can download an AIS App to your phone. There are many and they are free for the most. They show you, where the big and ugly fishing trawlers are. Right on your phone!

AIS.

Automatic Identification System. A great effort, and if everyone played along, saves lives (collision avoidance), and sealife (real-time tracking data to catch poachers fishing illegally).

BUT.

And this is a big BUT.

If you are a poacher, you can turn your AIS transponder, right the hell OFF! With a switch!

So this is how they do it then. When pair-trawling (the most destructive of all the illegal fishing methods), one of the collaborators, turns off. Easy as that. If the fleet ventures, in a group (read commercial fishing high-tech armada), then as they get near protected waters, one or two of them turns off, and enters the forbidden zone.

This happens ALL the time. The Sardine News tried to start a trawler watch to log sightings of suspect activity – but there is so much of it, that we got bogged right down right as we started. This was in Mozambique where these ugly boats are literally EVERYWHERE now.

Sardine Run 2020

Whilst we were imprisoned in lockdown thanks to our sheep governments interpretation of convid19, the Chinese/Japanese/Whoever fleets were plying the waters the whole time! Where? Slap bang on the sardine migration path. The AIS charts looked like a rugby scrum.

No photo description available.

And if you have been in St. Francis this time of year, any year, you can smell the sardines from the harbor for miles around. Go sniffing around there for yourselves. Huge loads of sardines. Wonder where they go? And whose were they in the first place?

Whoever they are and wherever they are from, they are ALL rigged with the latest in navigation and depth-sounding equipment. Utilising sonar pulses pumped out by a high-powered transducer, they can detect and chase a shoal of sardines 12 or more miles away! And with their huge capacity and tethers to a mother ship lurking around the area somewhere, that is also a factory ship – that drops CANNED sardines off at the wharf – what chance does the public ever have of getting their share, in the usually slow years of sardine running?

So…

Did Convid19 affect the sardine run this merry 2020?

Nope. It’s a bumper sardine run like we always dream of. It’s beyond perfect. The gamefish have arrived. Sharks are getting their teeth pulled. The weather is fantastic and ecological patterns are in place. Those pundits that complain year after year are completely silent.

Only. They just don’t get it.

AIS.

Shows that there were fleets of fishing boats fishing, directly in the path that the hapless sardines take right now during this sardine run 2020. Whilst we were in lockdown, there were commercial fishermen out there loading up! Enjoying a totally illegal, totally unnecessary lockdown, and infringement of our basic human right to freedom to fish as well!

My answer then is this. These boats remove the exact amount of tonnes and tonnes of sardines missing on our beaches – with this migration – each year. Only this time, there were just so many they couldn’t catch them all.

“Our” sardines?

Another interesting question.

BUT, one thing is for sure, if not for the bumper numbers that this year has given, the sardines hardly ever make it past Port Elizabeth, before they are all netted and frozen.

So, that leaves us back at square one. We have NO voice. It’s time to get political. If not that, then at least investigative in that we need to know why these ships are allowed to be plundering our sardines.

Whilst we are in lockdown!

Almost sounds like a conspiracy in theory.

Adam, my good mate, over to you…

Stay up-to-date with The Sardine News covering the goings-on, during this bumper sardine run in year 2020!

We are on Facebook right here, we run an action-packed YouTube video channel right here. Please like and subscribe to our channel on YouTube if you would like to encourage us to pump out more and more video. We have done really well recently with some great video produced in conjunction with the Fishing Pro Shops Johan Wessels – chasing sardines down in the Port Shepstone area. We got out to sea twice and caught a bunch of gamefish in the surf zone, and in the Umzimkulu River Estuary. Click on over to our YouTube video channel right here. And please consider a Like and Subscribe. Thank you

By The Sardine News

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Underwater Observatory in Mozambique by Calum Murie

Underwater Africa Ocean Observatory

Underwater Observatory in Mozambique by Calum Murie

Calum Murie, when he’s not out catching and tagging huge sharks for science, can be found deploying underwater observatory style camera rigs, all over Mozambique.

Calum and his band of volunteers at Underwater Africa designed this simple but effective underwater observatory camera rig – with bait and all!

The Morey Eels love being on camera, and literally dominate the entire show, whenever Calum and crew deploy their rigs. Up in Bazaruto and Benguerra Island two huge Moreys spent literally hours trying to figure out how to get at the free bait.

Without revealing too much, you can look forward to literally hundreds of fish and other marine animals in this particularly well edited clip. Soundtrack too!

The underwater observatory work that Calum is doing up here, is the first of it’s type here in Mozambique.

You can look forward to more of Calum and crew’s phenomenal work as they perfect the art of deploying an underwater observatory in Inhambane waters. His work is constantly being refined and the cameras can now stay down longer and film more. Having developed a crew that understands the value of the results and how important it is to deploy perfectly every time, is what is producing these results.

You can learn more about Underwater Africa and their research work going on in Praia do Tofo, where they are based. Their shark tagging program has been a great success. The Sardine crew have been assisting and getting right involved. Sonar tagging Zambezi sharks, and Copper Sharks, the data is being used to formulate a plan to reduce shark and human encounters up and down this coast. The spate of shark attacks that occurred up the Inhambane Estuary towards Morrumbuene is what kicked off the project. Listening stations are deployed along the entire East Coast of Southern Africa, and record when a tagged sharks swims past.

Ultimately, proving that Zambezi (and the other usual suspects) sharks are not wanderers, that they stay on their pieces of reef and ocean, is what can lead to measures, to curb the attacks.

If you are interested in this kind of activity and you have some time on your hands, please get in touch. We need help tagging these sharks up here, it’s not easy work, and it can be dangerous too.

Accommodation is rustic luxury and we have many boats to choose from for when we go out tagging sharks.

The Sardine is also facilitating tag and release programs for gamefish. Billfish included. But mainly targeting high value data fish that are in jeopardy and nobody has any data on them. You can see more of The Sardine’s adventure options by clicking here.

Get in touch with Sean on umzimkulu@gmail.com or WhatsApp +27 79 326 9671, anytime.

Catch us on Facebook at http://facebook.com/thesardine.co.za/

Here is a little baby marlin being released in the beginning of last year’s (2018) season…off Benguerra Island, with Jason Morkel on the rod, and Sean Lange on the trace.

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A shiver of sharks, a bale of turtles, and a backpacker palace

The fantastic view of the Tugela River Mouth - Sharks and turtles everywhere

A shiver of sharks, a bale of turtles, and a backpacker palace

Add to that an electric storm, a chocolate brown peeling left hander, a community from the 70’s, add a dollop of The Kei and a helping of Mozambique – and that was Tugela Mouth.

The mid summer rains and a huge catchment area made sure the Tugela was pumping out as it should be, spewing a plume of brown water out for miles. The east wind had been sand blasting for two days, the swell was decidedly from the north east and a chocolada left peeled for miles. Unsurfable.

Fins broke the surface continually as we checked in to the best view on the entire North Coast. Called Sensayuma, it qualifies for our coveted “backpacker palace” award. The place was so well kept and run you couldn’t find a bad smell anywhere. It’s huge. Open plan. Dorms are spotless with sea views to wake to. There are two swimming pools?! Jacuzzi. Bar. Rockstar living!

Details to follow…

But if marine wild life is your thing, Tugela Mouth goes to the top of the list. We may have spotted a hundred turtles and the same in sharks. Some turtles even climbed out of the water and were catching the last of the heatwave, when the storm came through.

Visit this place!

Leave surfboard behind.