File photo: In an average year, two hundred crates of the silver fish are caught and sold for about R500 a crate to wholesalers. Picture: Brenton Geach


Durban - One of the greatest animal migrations, rivalling the great Serengeti migration of the wildebeest, is proving to be a no-show this year – and fishermen are counting the cost.

The annual spectacle, usually seen between May and July, has become a tourist attraction and a great opportunity for scuba diving enthusiasts.


Small shoals of fish have been seen off the coast of Port Edward, though not sufficient for fishing.

Durban seine netter Morgan Subramanian, who has been netting the sardines for years, said they had been on the lookout for the fish, but that not enough were coming on shore.

“We’ve been out for a few hours and it seems the sardines have not caught on to the current to bring them to shore,” he said.

In an average year, two hundred crates of the silver fish are caught and sold for about R500 a crate to wholesalers.


Demetrious Stamatis, of Adcan Marine in Scottburgh, said they usually cast 30 nets each year and that the preparations were costly. “Repairs on the boats and 4x4s need to be done in time for the sardine run,” said Stamatis.

Stamatis said no fish has been caught off the coast of Scottburgh and none have been spotted nearby.

For the sardines to occur, there are a number of factors that need to be considered, one of those being the water temperature.

Seaworld’s director for education, Joan Porter, says that the sardines cannot swim in temperatures that are higher than 19°C.

“With the weather considered, sardines can’t swim in dirty water.

“So if there were rains and the river floods, they will move away to cleaner waters,” said Porter.

The noted absence of the sardines this year may have affected the fishing industry, but the dolphins, sharks and other animals that feed off the sardines will not be affected by the no-show, as they travel with the silver fish. - Daily News


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