Aliwal Shoal Report September 2007 - Basie Ackerman

General conditions

It’s that time of year.  Big easterlies, swinging round to big westerlies, without a pause. The Shoal was a very unfriendly place with unfavourable conditions the whole month.  The current was predominantly south north, with a few days of no current whatsoever. Not one day did I record a north south current. To add to this the visibility was poor, with an average of 5-6m, with a couple of days pushing the limits to an ‘astounding’ 8-10m. Combined with a temperature of 21-22 degrees Celsius, no one really raced to go out there to hunt some game fish. The last week of the month I recorded 35 knot easterlies out at sea, and a temperature of a healthy teeth-chattering 17 degrees. Show me any self respecting fish willing to hang around in those conditions.

Our Friend Sappi Saiccor

To add to all this, Sappi Saiccor took the end cap off their pipeline during the last week to enable the “pigs” to get pushed through in order to clean it, with a resultant dirty ocean with visibility of 1-2m, even against the light south north. The black cloud was pushed out to sea, then down the coast and back in over the Shoal with the reverse current, and hung around for 5 days. To boot Sappi is building a new damn (or is it dam?) wall up river, which resulted in the stopping of the natural flow of the Umkomaas river. The mouth is closed completely and we mere mortals had to combat a horrible 4ft shore break on the high tide. Two dive boats had their consoles snapped off just by trying to push through it.

At the time of writing, the beach stretched all the way from the ocean, under the bridge right up to where the old slipway on the south bank was. It just amazes me that a company can get away with dumping effluent into the ocean that directly affects a Marine Protected Area, as well as interfering with the natural flow of a river mouth and estuary inside a Marine Protected Area. Just take a look at the width of the bridge that was built years ago to span the mighty Umkomaas River. Now it spans a mighty sand dune. Makes you wonder.

Fish

What is that? I had no reports of anything worth mentioning, except some Salmon seen on the wreck of the Nebo.