The summer has brought with it many holiday makers, who have made the most of the glorious weather and the vast expanse of water in the Bot, after the winter rains. It was decided not to breach the estuary in September, since the height and salinity were not at the prescribed levels to permit this. Although there is smelly and unsightly green and black slime and algae growing all along the edges, it has not deterred eager kite surfers, kayakers, swimmers and boatsmen. The almost constant wind has been great for the kite surfers and sailing craft! With the high water levels one can canoe all through the Rooisand dunes. Angling at the mouth has been a favourite pastime. At night there is dazzling phosphorescence glistening on the waves to delight the children. It would seem the season has been relatively accident-free which we are all grateful for!
Recently dead fish (harder / mullet) have been washing up on the estuary shoreline. This is currently being investigated and we hope to have results of samples taken of water and fish by next week. It is suspected that the deaths are due to toxic plankton, which poses no threat to the holiday makers still making use of the water for swimming and sailing.
Many dead seals (mainly babies) have been observed between the mouth of the estuary and Kleinmond, and several live ones too. There is in fact one seal happily living in the estuary near the mouth, who can be observed sunning himself on a big rock in front of Sandown Bay! This washing up of baby seals who lose their mothers all along the south coast is a regular occurrence every season and is normal, according to the specialists.
Unusual rare sightings of small, luminous blue jelly fish were seen in December, which I suspect are Porpita porpita (‘blue buttons’) – see sajellywatch website here We have had very few of the small pink ones, Pelagia noctiluca and Chrysaora fulgida which were abundant all last summer. Another strange occurrence in November was the washing up of many Buoy Barnacles all along the coast, which were initially thought to be goose-neck barnacles. There is still no explanation for this and it is apparently a most unusual happening.
Of particular note this summer is the decrease in water fowl, as compared with previous summers. We normally have large populations of water fowl, such as flamingoes, pelicans, red-knobbed coots, sacred ibis etc. There are only a small handful of coots, and isolated pairs of pelicans and ibis. I have not seen any flamingos at all. It could be that the water is too high for them perhaps, since they like wading in the shallows. Terns are evident in their hundreds, and kelp gulls also grace the beach, but are not as numerous as the terns. The oyster catchers are again breeding successfully – I was privileged to witness one defending her nest against a group of kelp gulls recently.
versus Sea Gulls
The feral horses have been conspicuous by their absence this summer, except for their middens visible here and there. They are probably in the Rooisand or Lamloch area. Anyone who has sighted them is asked to let us know please. I discovered the carcass of a baby horse on the dunes, still with some hide on. Last summer one of the new-born foals died as well. There have been regular outrides along the beach from Hawston to Kleinmond, led by a horse owner from Botrivier.
Incidents of vehicles on the beach have happily been few and far between lately. A few months ago there were regular quad bikes racing along the beach, even crossing the bridge through to Middlevlei. One time two youngsters had to push their broken-down quad bike through Middlevlei all the way home to Hawston – they were hopefully apprehended and fined by law enforcement who were informed promptly of the incident. Let’s hope this served as a temporary deterrent. Unfortunately there has been a lack of visible members of law enforcement around the estuary, so it is incumbent upon the residents and holiday makers to keep a look out and report any unlawful activities such as illegal gill-netting on the 24-hour emergency telephone no 028 313 8000/8111.