Effects of deadly red tide will linger

Reel Time, with Wayne Rudman

I HAVE always been fascinated by the mysterious world of the ocean and its law of eat or be eaten. There is nothing crueller than the law of the ocean and being eaten alive is standard in these waters though the fact is that fish feel little, if any, pain.

The ocean remains as primitive as it was when creation began. Predators, in nature, are few on land but many more dwell beneath the surface of the waves.

We continue to enjoy a windless summer with sweltering hot days. It has been years since we last had such near-perfect weather.

Unusual catches have always fascinated me and one such catch was that of a lobotes or tripletail caught at the Kromme River by Marius Potgieter recently. Although they are known to enter the estuaries from the Kromme northwards up the east coast they are essentially a tropical and subtropical species.

At about the same location on the Kromme I once caught a zebra which is also a reef dweller and this was about 8km from the river mouth.

We once also caught a ragged tooth shark quite a bit further from the river mouth than where they can be expected to be found. I also remember that about 10 years ago we caught many juvenile big eye kingfish in the Canyon of the Kromme and these fish certainly don't belong there.

The swimming prawn also don't venture more south than the Kromme either, which makes me think there is significance here.

Is it possibly that St Francis Bay creates a current that deposits these species there?

On January 2, I first observed the red tide at Port of St Francis and not long after that all hell broke loose along our coast.

The effects of these natural phenomena will be felt for some time to come. It is the territorial species that are most affected by these occurrences. The red tide has entered estuaries like the Swartkops and moved far up the tidal zone and we shall take stock in the months ahead.

This is the first time I have seen this happen and this at a time when the estuary is already under severe pressure as has been noted by the 2013 Fielding Report, soon-to-be common knowledge. I am led to believe the mud prawn population is at about 30% of what it was back in 1980 when the first stock assessment was undertaken by Hanekom.

The alarm bells rang back in 2009 already, when a significant decline had been noted after Dr Fielding copied Hanekom's study 28 years prior, but there has been no response or action taken to remedy the situation which has long been spiraling out of control.