No-show sardines: what the researchers have to say

2009-07-24 00:00

CURRENT research by the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Biological and Conservation Sciences on the role water temperature plays in allowing sardines to move up the East Coast should add to the debate behind the no-show sardine run on the KwaZulu-Natal south coast this year.

The yearly phenomenon of sardines on the shoreline, usually every June, on the KwaZulu-Natal coastlines, sees fishermen, locals, tourists and thousands of Cape gannets, sharks and dolphins gunning for a good position on the shoal.

According to UKZN researcher Sean O’Donoghue, their research, which is in its seventh year, has shown that the upwelling of cold water from the sea bed is forced shorewards by easterly winds. This creates conditions suitable for the sardine run to occur.

This is because the current conditions along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline have been too warm for sardines, which prefer a temperature below 20°C, he said. “Surprisingly, cold fronts moving up from the Cape, blow in warm water often pushing the sardines shorewards, but reducing the momentum of the sardine run,” he added.

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