Green Scorpion Robert Stegmann photographed a 30m-wide whirlpool in the ocean just off the Wild Coast, while on a routine police service air patrol on 17 August.
According to Kevin Cole, a natural scientist at the East London Museum, the image shows one, or possibly two spinning holes which consist of high levels of energy and are located close to the shore at about 245m off Rame Head point, and poses a danger to ocean uses.
As reported by Times Live – Cole said that photographs depicting natural phenomena are important when investigating anomalies along the Wild Coast.
Cole is investigating whether the whirlpool was created by the volatile, fast-flowing Agulhas current that had come close to the inshore and connected with a longshore drift flowing in the opposite direction, as the two energies displayed by two opposing forces would cause a “violent vortex evolving into a spinning whirlpool.”
However, Professor Tommy Bornman, research leader at the SA Environment Observation Network and coastal ecology expert has a different theory and believes that the Agulhas was not directly involved, but rather a sign of climate change. The warming climate’s direct effect on the oceans has caused the Agulhas to heat up.
He added, “As it heats up it can meander or broaden. We are seeing more extreme weather and more storm surges and storm winds.”
Bornman said, “When opposing currents meet they are known to generate freak waves and strong currents. It is possible that with exceptionally strong winds, the Agulhas has come in closer and the longshore drift has also become exceptionally strong.
“However, after a closer inspection of the photographs, he said: “I don’t think the Agulhas current is involved — too close inshore and way too shallow at a 30m depth. This is clearly the result of a very strong longshore current coming up against a strong rip current.”
Bornman predicts that the Eastern Cape coastline will experience more upwellings of easterly winds and sudden changes in water temperature from 26 degrees celsius to 12 degrees celsius and then back to 27degress celsius. This sudden spike and temperature drop cause fish to enter thermal shock and die.
Original publication: Mike Loewe, Daily Dispatch.