The KwaZulu-Natal sardine run

Broad-scale distribution patterns of sardine and their predators in relation to remotely sensed environmental conditions during the KwaZulu-Natal sardine run

Published in: African Journal of Marine Science
Volume 32, issue 2, 2010 , pages: 279–291
DOI: 10.2989/1814232X.2010.501584
Author(s): SH O’DonoghueSchool of Biological and Conservation Sciences, South Africa, L Drapeau, France, VM PeddemorsSchool of Biological and Conservation Sciences, South Africa


The annual movement of South African sardine Sardinops sagax up the east coast of South Africa, known as the ‘sardine run’, was investigated using data from aerial surveys for the period 1988–2005 and compared with remotely sensed sea surface temperature (SST) and chlorophyll a data. Sardine sighting rates were highest within the Waterfall Bluff Bight off the Eastern Cape Coast, where conditions appeared to be most favourable. Sardine and predator sightings decreased significantly northwards of Mdoni on the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) coast, whereas the proportion of nearshore sightings increased. The causal mechanism for this inshore concentration is suggested to be the influx of warm Agulhas Current water from the Durban Eddy that forces sardine shoreward. Cape gannet Morus capensis, common dolphin Delphinus capensis and sardine distributions were associated, and there was an association between SST and sardine and predator distributions. There was a marked increase in bottlenose dolphin Tursiops aduncus sightings upon commencement of the sardine run, with these dolphins being consid-ered to be a ‘migratory’ stock that enters KZN waters every winter.

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