The KwaZulu-Natal sardine run: shoal distribution in relation to nearshore environmental conditions, 1997–2007
AbstractThe nearshore presence of sardine Sardinops sagax on the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) coast was investigated using sightings data collected by the KZN Sharks Board from 1997 to 2007. The spatio-temporal distribution of sardine was described in relation to that of their predators and to environmental conditions, and subjected to generalised linear model (GLM) and generalised additive model (GAM) analyses. Variables describing spatio-temporal conditions performed best in the models (r2 = 0.52) with seasonal effects, specifically June and July, making the greatest contribution towards sardine presence. The contribution of the years 2003, 2006 and 2007, and the KZN North Coast, was significantly lower. The predator variables were highly significant (r2 = 0.48) with Cape gannets Morus capensis, followed by the sharks/gamefish and common dolphins Delphinus capensis, being most closely associated with sardine presence. Environmental variables were not as influential in the GLM models (r2 = 0.23), but some variables were useful in describing conditions favouring sardine presence, namely calm current conditions, light north-westerly land breezes and stable atmospheric conditions. Increasing sea surface temperature (SST), moderate north to south currents, large swells and turbid water had a negative impact upon sardine presence. North-easterly and north-westerly winds and north to south currents had a cooling effect upon nearshore SSTs, whereas south-easterly winds and increasing air temperatures caused nearshore warming. Results are discussed in the context of developing an understanding of the mechanisms that govern fine-scale movements of sardine shoals during the KZN sardine run, with a view to predicting such movements.
Keywords: bottlenose dolphin, Cape gannet, common dolphin, Delphinus capensis, Morus capensis, sardine run, Sardinops sagax, SST, Tursiops aduncus
African Journal of Marine Science 2010, 32(2): 293–307