Dr Ryan Daly and his dive buddy Carl Elkington (diver pictured) went spearfishing among the shoals of sardines near Scottburgh, KwaZulu-Natal, on Tuesday, June 16. They were surrounded by dolphins, sharks and gannets that were pursuing the sardines. Picture: Dr Ryan Daly
Dr Ryan Daly and his dive buddy Carl Elkington (diver pictured) went spearfishing among the shoals of sardines near Scottburgh, KwaZulu-Natal, on Tuesday, June 16. They were surrounded by dolphins, sharks and gannets that were pursuing the sardines. Picture: Dr Ryan Daly

PICS: Doctor captures underwater magic of the 2020 sardine run

By Jehran Daniel Time of article published Jun 18, 2020

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Durban - A Durban-based marine doctor captured and shared mesmerising underwater images on Tuesday while diving amid the shoals of sardines that arrive at South Africa's shores annually. 

Dr Ryan Daly of the Oceanographic Research Institute (ORI) and Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT) shared these images as a part of the #greatestshoalonearth.

In a statement issued on Wednesday by the USCT, Daly shared his account, saying it was the most sardines he had ever seen. 

“What a bonanza of fish we saw yesterday (Tuesday, June 16), it was overwhelming with so many sardines! As both a scientist and someone who has been following the sardines for many years, it was amazing to see the volume of sardines,” said Daly. 

Daly, who holds a PhD from Rhodes University, feared that the environmental changes may have affected the sardine run negatively; however, he said this was not the case. 

“Certainly, it’s the most sardines I’ve ever seen on the KZN South Coast. With climate change, potential pressure from commercial fishing and shifts in the way animals respond to environments, many scientists were worried that bumper sardine runs were a thing of the past, so it’s fantastic to see the surge in activity. It should bode well for a great season.”

Picture: Dr Ryan Daly

According to the assistant scientist at ORI, they experienced a lack of information regarding the sardine run this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

“We don’t actually know how much activity there was on the Wild Coast and whether this is just a pocket that showed up on the South Coast, or if it was preceded by a much larger volume,” he said. 

The shoals netted near Scottburgh, KwaZulu-Natal, on Tuesday. Image: Dr Ryan Daly

Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of USCT, the official destination management organisation of the Ugu district in KwaZulu-Natal, echoed Daly’s account, saying it was the best sardine run the province has seen in a while. 

According to Mangcu, the cold weather has proven beneficial in bringing the shoals of sardines to places like Sezela, Ramsgate, Scottburgh, Southbroom and Pennington over the past few days . 

“This is only the start of this winter event, and we’re looking forward to ongoing marine activity over the coming days. USCT would like to thank everyone who is supporting our local fishermen during this time, as well as those providing support to local restaurants and cafés,” she said. 

“We also encourage everyone to continue practising all required health and safety protocols, including wearing of masks, regular hand sanitising and social distancing.”

Picture: Dr Ryan Daly
Picture: Dr Ryan Daly
African News Agency

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