The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board (KZNSB) says shark safety gear has been placed at all protected beaches as shoals of various species of baitfish have been spotted, Northglen News reports.
The board undertook its first monitoring flight of the 2018 sardine season last week. Their main interest in the annual run is to ensure that any shoals of sardines that are accompanied by large groups of predators are monitored, and that the shark safety gear is managed accordingly to minimise any negative environmental impact of the gear.
“There are currently many shoals of various species of baitfish visible off the KZN coastline especially noticeable during periods of calm sea conditions.
“It is not possible to determine the different species of these baitfish from the air. However, the KZNSB has been sampling some of these shoals, and have found that they consist of mainly of mackerel, east coast round herring, torpedo scads, amongst others.
“It is also not uncommon to find occasional sardines mixed in among the shoals during this time of the year,” said the board’s head of operations Mike Anderson-Reade.
During the flight numerous shoals of bait fish were observed along the entire flight route.
“The first and only positive signs of sardine accompanied by associated predator activity was seen just south of Mazeppa on the Eastern Cape coast some 210km south of KwaZulu-Natal.
“It is highly likely that some small fast moving pockets of sardines are already present off the KZN coast and nettings by the commercial seine netters may well take place during the coming weeks,” he added.