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See Photo Competition details on our Conservancy page.

Southern Righ whale calf

This Southern Right whale calf, believed to be about 3 weeks-old,  was washed-up just east of Blue Horizon Bay on Saturday, August 13.

Blue Horizon Bay August News Update

Winter in the bay has been warm, with occasional storms and good rains measuring 50mm last week.  However for a whale calf and its mother, the welcome rain and the tempestuous seas had a sad ending.

On Friday a large Southern Right whale was seen swimming inshore up and down the bay, but it was only when a calf was found beached on the Maitland side of BHB that it became apparent that the mother and her calf must have been separated by the high seas.

Johann Müller, manager of BHB’s environmental protocol  was notified by Councillor Jason Grobbelaar that the live calf had washed up on the beach to the east of the village and together with Carl Matheus kept the calf wet after sending video material to Bayworld  for instant advice.

Bayworld consulted a vet and Environmental Affairs in Cape Town, and it was agreed that as the mother was no longer in the bay, it would be best to euthanase the struggling young mammal who was too immature to manage  the seas alone.  Bayworld curator, Dr Greg Hofmeyer engaged a professional hunter to shoot the calf which was then taken to Bayworld  for post mortem.

Should you ever come across an animal in distress on the beach please call Johann on 071 976 4404 immediately and if possible take pictures that can be used to bring clarity to the situation.

There were a number of housebreakings in the village in the early hours of Sunday morning, August 12 and again in the early hours of 17 August. The police believe that it is a blitz by a known syndicate looking for electrical goods and are working on known leads. In the meantime, let us all be vigilant!

On a brighter note, the municipality is installing the gutters on the hall roof this week and the dune irrigation system should be up and running by month-end using harvested water from the hall roof. The water stoppage caused by a broken pump at the Churchill supply has been attended to and the reservoir has filled again. Councillor John West visited the village this week and advised that while budgets were tight, the car park at the beach should still be tarred this fiscal.

With Spring around the corner, it’s time to get your gardening tools out and welcome in the warmer weather. And hopefully some more rain!

 

 

CHOKKA IN SEASON

As July rolls in, so do our chokka boats and the peaceful bay can sometimes be lit up to resemble New York’s Times Square.

But what does it take to be a seafarer and fish the white gold in St Francis Bay? Alan Straton of MyPE.co.za gives us a view from the other side of the waves

Siyaloba celebrates Day of Seafarer.

25 JUNE 2018 BY ALAN STRATON ADD YOUR COMMENT

 Local chokka fishers, who are going out to sea for the first time, with the Siyaloba Training Academy care packages received to celebrate “Day of the Seafarer”.

Siyaloba Training Academy observed the annual, international “Day of the Seafarer” today by acknowledging and celebrating local chokka fishers, who are integral to the R650-million Squid Industry in the Eastern Cape region. Siyaloba and employer representatives were on hand to distribute care packages to fishers who set sail on the annual opening of the season on Friday 22 June 2018.

Port Elizabeth-headquartered Siyaloba Training Academy is a non-profit community centre focussed on improving lives in coastal communities through skills development. Siyaloba Training Manager, Mariette Weyers, explains, “The squid fishers in Port Elizabeth and St. Francis Bay areas are our most important stakeholders and we felt that they must be celebrated for their hard work and sacrifice, particularly considering their important contribution to our local economy.”

The South African squid fishery is based on a single species, Loligoreynaudii, commonly referred to as “chokka”, also known as “squid”, “calamari” or “white gold”.  Fishing boats are equipped to sustain its fleets for up to three weeks at sea while the crew fish for shoals of chokka off the coast of Port Elizabeth, Jeffreys Bay and St. Francis Bay.

South African Squid Management Industrial Association (SASMIA) Chairperson Dino Moodaley said, “The squid industry exports 100% of its product. Most of this is to Mediterranean countries such as Italy and Spain. The industry brings over R650-million in foreign exchange to South Africa every year. This would not be possible without the squid/chokka fishermen and we salute these dedicated men on Seafarer Day 2018”.

The crew live, eat and sleep on the vessel during their up to twenty-one-day trips. The fishers start casting their lines when the sun begins to set, and they stop as the sun rises the next morning. The catch for the evening is weighed and then they head off to their bunks to rest.

Benjamin Dicken, a Skipper on a chokka vessel, explains: “I have a very stable crew on the vessel. Being a squid fisherman is a demanding job – the effort you put in is the result you get out. The fishers are thinking about the people at home when they are out at sea. They are driven by providing for their families – sending money to school, family, Christmas time.”

Maxwell Ndevu, a squid fisherman, says, “Being at sea is a part of my life. I have been fishing since 1997. My job has allowed me to provide for and take care of my family and I have been able to improve myself through the training courses I have completed over the years.”

Siyaloba Training Academy was started to provide basic life-saving and safety at sea training to the squid fishermen, but now also supports the fishers’ families and coastal communities where they reside. Since the organisation’s inception in the Squid Industry the offering had been augmented to include life skills, business training, numeracy and literacy interventions, entrepreneurial development and learnerships.

The International Maritime Organization (IMO)’s Day of the Seafarer (celebrated today on 25 June 2018) sets out to recognise the unique contribution made by seafarers from all over the world to international trade, the world economy and civil society as a whole. The 2018 Day of The Seafarer Theme is “Seafarer well-being”. By addressing the issue of seafarers’ wellbeing and particularly mental health, the campaign aims to inform specific strategies to tackle stress and other issues affecting seafarers’ mental conditions – and make the tools available more widely known.

In line with the Day of the Seafarer focus on “Seafarer well-being”, Siyaloba Training Academy offers various personal development and life-skills training courses to address the overall well-being and holistic development of the fishers. These interventions include topics such as Adult literacy training, Personal finance, HIV/AIDS awareness as well as Conflict management, to allow the fishers to engage and achieve their full potential.

Small Employer Association Squid Industry (SEASI) Chairperson, William Gqeke concludes: “There are 2 440 fishermen on chokka vessels in the region. This is remarkable in terms of employment – as the third largest fishing employer after deep-sea hake ad small pelagic fishing. The squid employers wish the fishers well on the Day of the Seafarer and thank them for their service”.

Read more: http://mype.co.za/new/siyaloba-celebrates-day-of-seafarer/104372/2018/06#ixzz5JWNWNao0

UPDATE FROM OUR COUNCILLOR JASON GROBBELAAR:

Provincial road maintenance within the Peri-urban areas of NMBM – Ward 40

 Dear Ward 40 resident

I write to you as you have previously reported your provincial gravel or provincial tarred road to me (or you are the head of an association and can assist to disseminate information with regards to provincial roads within the Ward) all cc’d herein are from Ward 40 and your gravel or tarred road falls under the jurisdiction of the province and is under the administration of the MEC for Roads and Public works (this will change after 1 April 2018 to the MEC for Transport) Please also note that funding is received by this department and not the municipality, we (NMBM Metro) have no jurisdiction over provincial roads that form part of the peri-urban areas of the Metro, which is the whole of Ward 40.

The MEC in Bisho has responded yesterday to questions asked by my DA colleague in Bisho, Hon Vicky Knoetze, please note that I have been asking since mid last year for maintenance on provincial gravel and tarred roads when I started noticing more and more complaints from un-maintained roads were coming in and the contractor had budget constraints that hampered adequate regular maintenance, see attached latest questions and responses. The MEC referred the issues last year after budget ran out to the Provincial in-house team under the District Roads Engineer, but this was not planned properly by her and budget was not adequate for the in-house team either to properly maintain the roads. 

We (NMBM Metro) have jurisdiction over certain provincial roads within the inner parts of the Metro and receive budget from the province for those, they are known as SLA (service level agreement) roads, see attached list of SLA road names and locality map indicating SLA roads for your reference and information, you will note that no roads from Ward 40 form part of these SLA roads.

I note from the MEC’s response that an amount of R17.4m is allocated for Peri-Urban roads within the NMBM, this will come available after the contractor is appointed. This funding is for all the provincial roads in our area that is not on the SLA of the Metro, most gravel roads within the ward are provincial roads and most of the longer tarred roads in the area are provincial roads i.e. Rocklands Rd, St Albans Rd, Mission Rd, Seaview Rd, Old Cape Rd, De Stades Rd, Kragga Kamma Rd, Butterfield Rd, Lakeside Rd, Draaifontein Rd, Elandrivier Rd, Witteklip Rd, Tembani Rd, Westlands Rd, Windomayne Rd ect. and they need to be maintained with this funding. It simply is not enough taking into consideration that all potholes, verge cutting, street signs, road markings, drainage culverts, edge breaks, blading, rolling and maintenance must come from this budget. I will meet with the contractor as soon as it is known who the contractor will be and I will ask that a priority list be drawn up and the most pressing issues be prioritised. Issues that directly affect personal safety will be highest i.e. overgrown verges hampering visibility or damage to the road that could cause accidents. I will also ask that the roads be ranked and listed in order to formulate a plan of action. Some roads needs total resurfacing and urgent attention, but this will not be possible with this budget i.e. Maitlands Rd is moving and breaking away towards the sea and soon that road could wash away, Mission Rd, Rocklands Rd and the Greenbushes section of Seaview Rd from the railway line to Cape Rd is in desperate need of total resurfacing that will cost millions. 

Budget started to run out as early as August 2017 last year for Minor Provincial Gravel Roads, note that this was only 4-months into the financial year that started 1 April for the province (Bisho administration), some relief was provided with the Departmental in-house teams and funding from neighboring contracts that was shifted over where and when possible, those that were not done after funding ran out was put on the maintenance list and awaiting the appointment of a new contractor and funding. If your road was not done up until now, kindly inform me during the second week of April 2018, hopefully by then the new contractor will be ready to start and we can confirm that your road is on the list.

Please note that it will be another rough year with this limited budget from the MEC in Bisho and that maintenance and repairs of these roads are not municipal service delivery failures if/when they are not properly maintained or repaired in the year going forward.

Regards

Jason Grobbelaar

Ward 40

NMBM

GO TAKE A HIKE ON BHB’S VERY OWN MINI-HIKING TRAIL

The “Sottepad”, BHB’s very own short hiking trail is now open for business. Danie and his crew have done a wonderful job in clearing the trail which had become very overgrown and impassable in parts. 

Our Conservancy Chairman, Bob Bell, says: “I walked the trail yesterday and couldn’t help but be amazed at the diversity of the coastal thicket and forest along the trail. The trees must be hundreds of years old. The trail runs through a very distinctive and unique biome. 

The following photographs give some idea of the nature of the trail but don’t do it full justice. Nol Timmermans has certainly created a unique and valuable legacy”. 

The Sottepad begins and ends near the tennis court behind the shop and winds up and down the valley for more than 1 km. 

Take your family and enjoy a walk while identifying and noting the trees and vegetation on the trail. Our website www.bluehorizonbay.com  has a list of the natural vegetation of the area to help you along and we attach pictures of what awaits you!

Talking of birds and houses in the ‘hood!

Some of you may remember the Andy Williams song, NO 54,  House with the Bamboo Door …..made of sticks and bricks. Now here is the Story of Bird No 63 visiting two brick houses in Blue Horizon Bay.

One of our special Black Oyster Catchers was seen wondering around lower Beach road late in June. With no sign of Avian flu and a dead ringer for the local cats, the rather friendly chap stayed around sunning itself for some time. But when neighbours tried to catch it with the help of SANCOB, it flew off to the beach where it belongs.

But next day it was back. This time at the house of Mike and Marilyn Bellingham where it was again noted that it was quite tame and was wearing a ring.

Johann Müller had better luck catching and containing it this time and SANCOB took it to their marine bird rehabilitation and education centre in the Cape Recife Nature Reserve.

But this was no ordinary bird.

The friendly chap who liked house visiting, carried Ring number 63, and it had been hand reared by SANCOB and only released the previous week, Stacey Webb of SANCOB told us. “We will try to re-introduce it into its natural surroundings shortly” she added.

We can be proud that our villagers gave ‘No 63’ another chance at life and we wish our Oyster Catcher a prosperous future in its natural surroundings.

  • If you spot a bird hanging around in the village, please call Johann on 071 976 4404. Do not approach it yourself as there is an Avian Flu epidemic in the region and thousands, some say millions, of birds have died in the past year

  • And if you want to listen to Any Williams House no 54 click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYem7pxvHEI

MEET AND GREET OUR AFRICAN BLACK OYSTERCATCHERS:

The African Black Oystercatcher {Haematopus moquini}

The African Black Oystercatcher also known as the African Oystercatcher, is a large wader which is a resident breeder on the rocky coasts and islands of southern Africa and is the species around which Blue Horizon Bay has designed its logo.

There are many breeding pairs in our bay and visitors to the beach are asked to avoid their nests and breeding grounds as the Oystercatcher is an endangered species

The African Black Oystercatcher is the largest of the Oystercatcher species. It is a large and noisy plover-like bird, unmistakable with its beautiful jet black plumage, pinkish/red legs and strong broad dagger-like red bill which it uses for smashing or prying open molluscs such as mussels, or for finding earthworms.

The eyes and eye rings are red. The Black Oystercatcher is unmistakable in flight with its rather impressive all-dark plumage.  Although the sexes are very similar in appearance, the females are larger and heavier with longer bills. Juveniles are browner than adults.

QUICK FACTS

Size

Length is 42 – 45 cm.
The male weighs an average of 660g and the female weights 720g when fully grown.

Habitat

The African black oystercatcher lives on rocky and sandy shores but it can also be found in estuaries and coastal lagoons. However, it prefers to breed on offshore islands and sandy beaches.

Distribution

African black oystercatcher is commonly found along the southern African coast all the way from northern Namibia to the Eastern Cape Province in South Africa. In South Africa, large flocks of them can be found all along the coast from Lamberts Bay in the Western Cape through to Mazeppa Bay on the Wild Coast in the Eastern Cape.

Diet

Black Oystercatcher eat limpets and mussels (not oysters). They can only feed at low tide and do so at day and night. Because of their highly selective feeding area they are more susceptible to human activity than most other shore birds. Abandoned or entangled fishing line is particularly dangerous for these birds as they easily become entangled in it with lethal results.

Socialisation

Highly territorial throughout the year, during the non-breeding period African Black Oystercatchers have been observed to form aggregations or roost in clubs. This is believed to function in predator avoidance as clubs are usually situated on offshore rocks or promontories with good all-round visibility.  These clubs tend to contain more birds at night when predation risk is greater.

Communication

The African Black Oystercatcher mates for life.

Reproduction

The nest is a bare scrape on pebbles or shingles. The female generally lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated by both adults. The Oystercatchers breeding season coincides with summer and summer holiday periods when use of the coast is usually at its peak. As a result, in many areas birds are unable to breed successfully, due to disturbance and increased predation risk as a result of disturbance. Although they may live for 35 years they do not breed until they are three years old.

Incubation

The eggs are incubated by both parents and hatch after 27 to 39 days. Young fledge at between 35 to 40 days of age.

Life Expectancy

Reports on life expectancy vary from 18 to 40 years.

Predators

During the breeding period these birds, their eggs and chicks are vulnerable to natural predators such as foxesjackals, genets, snakes and gulls. Their breeding time is during the summer which coincides with the holiday season – this puts the oystercatcher under additional threat as its space is invaded by humans (and their dogs) who make their way to the coast for the holidays and weekends.

References

Two Oceans Aquarium; arkive.org; Birdlife International

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