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jtresfon

Cape Town Sardine Phenomenon...

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For the past week, Sardines have been trapped along the Cape Town Atlantic coast. They moved into Houtbay and surrounding areas causing a frenzy of activity for fishermen, seals and dolphins. This has happened before but not in-recent memory and certainly not in such vast quantities, in November 2009 we saw a similar phenomenon with anchovies but that only lasted a single day. Steve Benjamin with photographers Jean Tresfon and Graham Fenwick headed out on Sunday morning to look for shoals of fish being predated on by seals. We found this in a small bay under Chapmans peak drive, here large pockets were trapped in shallow, clean water with hundreds of seals in pursuit. The seals seemed to favor the tiny loose shoals of 2-5 fish and these they chased like dogs after a tennis ball. I saw numerous seals biting sardines and not consuming them, a massacre of injured and flailing fish. The theory as to why the fish are trapped is that they were caught close to shore by a sudden cold snap in water temperature by a sudden strong SE wind. The thermal shock stressed the fish and predators took advantage. The fish were thin and weak, looking disoriented and lost. This experience was unique and rare and I am so glad we made the extra effort to get out there and get into the action. These events happen quickly and you just cant put it off "till tomorrow", in this environment there is no tomorrow, you must act now. Adventure divers put great effort and finances in traveling around the world to see unique marine events and one just happened on our doorstep. There are so many incredible wildlife experiences to be had right here in our regular coastal waters, if you know what to look for. From a photographic perspective the weather was overcast and gloomy, and the water was clean in patches. The low ambient light was challenging with the fast moving fish and seals.

 

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Regards

Jean.

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Fantastic images! Looks like an amazing experience.

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You lucky guy Jean!!

What a great experience it must have been!

 

Cheers

Karel

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