Aliwal Shoal Report September 2009 - Basie Ackermann

General conditions

September did not disappoint. If you are a kite surfer. Or a lazy seagull. Or the municipality of Margate and Richards Bay. They are obviously racking up frequent flyer miles of some sorts. I’m talking about the municipalities. If you ask me it was a novelty last month. This month all those fly by’s were just downright annoying. They are really pulling the mickey out of it.

We’ve had 9 big westerly winds between 30-40 knots this month, with most days in between producing easterlies of 20knots. So, basically a big west every third day, with a moderate easterly in between. Very similar to last year. Water temperature ranged from 18 to 21 degrees Celsius, and the current was mostly reverse. There were 8 days of north south current, with only two of them coinciding with diveable conditions. Visibility was great if you are a blind duck waddling through a tar pit at night. Sappi Saiccor really outdid themselves this month. Millions of litres of effluent around, either of the nice black frothy, smelly, blind duck favourite variety, or of the dark green diluted with sea water variety.

From the 9th to the 16th the visibility was reduced to 4m by the effluent. There was a thick dark “road” of this all the way from the pipeline in the north past Rocky Bay to the south – only a distance of 20km, give or take, and one kilometre wide, as per my GPS. That is a hell of a lot of industrial outfall in anyone’s book. This band was pushed inshore and was still being fed by Sappi, for it was now, on the 20th, TWO kilometers wide, and stretching as far south as the eye could see. Fortunately this is not a Marine Protected area, and neither are any user groups‘activities limited in any way within this area. For example spearfihermen and fishermen. Thank goodness for that! Just imagine what would happen if it WAS an MPA, and how MCM and Parks Board would be all over this type of pollution. NOT!!!!!

It just stumps me that they could declare this area an MPA in the first place, with this industrial outfall affecting the area on a daily basis, and turn a blind eye. Now even more so, as there are some renewed outcries from butterfly kissers and bunny huggers to make this area a complete no take zone. “No fishing! No spearing allowed! But please – keep up the industrial pollution! ” Ok enough of that. There were one or two days with really good 18-20metre visibility, and a couple with fair visibility of 12metres.

Fish

As you probably gathered from the conditions, not much to report. On the right days I am sure the fish were there, but it just wasn’t diveable. I saw one 20kg Wahoo come out on a fishing boat earlier on in the month, and I know Andy Norton and crew lost three nice Wahoo due to various reasons on the 20th, one of the good days for diving.

Lots of Yellowfin tuna around, all coming out on fishing boats. A particularly good day on the 19th gave one boat 16 tuna and another commercial a lot more than that. No biggies, all 4-8kgs. Quite a few taken by sharks, and quite a few Rapalas and Halcos lost. But that was that. Fortunately we are moving closer to spearing season again, so there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. As long as it is not a Mac truck.

Enjoy our Oceans,
Basie