Durban - Thousands of ecstatic beachgoers converged on eManzimtoti Beach to grab a handful of fish when the shoals of sardines were brought ashore by seine netters on Sunday
The much-anticipated annual sardine run saw shoals of the fish moving up to Port Edward, but then turning and moving back south, before turning around and reaching eManzimtoti and sending the South Coast into a frenzy.
The shoreline was visited by residents of all ages, some as spectators of the spectacular arrival while others came to buy the fish to feed their families. Local fishermen were excited at the sardines’ arrival.
The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board Maritime of Excellence explained that each year in June or July, along the KwaZulu-Natal coast, word gets out and, within hours, crowds of frenzied human predators converge on the area to join sharks, gamefish, marine mammals and birds in a feeding orgy.
"It is a time of plenty for all as large shoals of sardines move in a band up the coast. Fresh, frozen, canned, pickled or bait - whatever way you consider them, sardines (also known as pilchards) will have featured somewhere in the lives of many South Africans. Like their close relatives, the anchovies and herrings, sardines (Sardinops sagax) live out their lives in huge shoals in the surface layers of the ocean. Although these fish are small, collectively they comprise nearly a quarter of the world's fish catch by weight, making them one of our most valuable groups of fish." stated the Sharks Board website.
Sardines are cold-water fish and are usually associated with areas of cold ocean upwelling, where deeper, cooler, nutrient-rich water currents surge to the surface when they strike shallow coastal areas.
Sardines are commonly found in enormous shoals on the west coasts of California, South America, Japan, Australia and, of course, southern Africa.