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The Sardine Run ’07: The Greastest shoal on Earth is nearly here.

It is nearly time again for the world famous sardine run, where gigantic shoals of sardine (which can be seen from space), swarm up the East coast of South Africa.

The Sardine Run can be witnessed at some point between May and July (conditions permitting). If the water is too warm the Sardines will stay out in the deeper water.

Divers come from all over the word to view this once in a lifetime dive opportunity dubbed “The most exiting dive in the world”
The massive schools clump into bait-balls as a feeding frenzy occurs by shark, seal, birds, fisherman and other predator fish species.

It was reported today that if water temperatures remained low, the fishies could be close to shore by next week. If you are in the are check for updates and dive info here.

Sardine run facts after the jump:

  • Shoals can obtain a size of 15kms long, 3kms wide and over 40mtrs deep!
  • Sardines mature at about 19cm and reproduce during an extended breeding season from September to February.
  • All the tins of pilchards in tomato sauce originate from the Cape. Some of the sardines are processed into fish meal.
  • Sardines live short lives, but grow quite quickly. They reach a length of about 22cm in their second year.
  • Most breeding takes place on the Agulhas Bank in the Southern Cape, but some sardines do breed also in KwaZulu-Natal.
  • KwaZulu-Natal waters do contain much plankton to provide a sufficient food source for the sardines.
  • Sardines, also known as pilchards, they are also found other cold water areas of the world.
  • Sharks and Dolphins work in harmony to herd the Sardines in to “Baitballs” so they can easily be picked off by the predators.
  • Sardines are filter feeders, sieving plankton from the water, as it passes between their gills.
  • It is estimated that Sarines make uo 23% of the worlds fish catch.
  • Only a small percentage of the sardine schools go through KwaZulu-Natal waters, where over 700 tons are caught during the
  • “Sardine Run”, while over 4000 tons are caught in the Eastern Cape.
  • Cape fur seals and penguins also feed on sardines but are not often seen in the warmer KwaZulu-Natal waters.
  • The majority of South Africa’s sardines occur off the Western and Southern Cape, where about 100 000 tons are caught annually by seine netters operating from various harbours.
  • The Sardine Run can be enjoyed below the Ocean or from above, by Bird Watchers, Marine Enthusiasts, Divers, and Tourists.
  • Cape gannets move up from their huge colonies in the Cape, to follow the “Greatest Shoal on Earth” up the KwaZulu Natal Coast.
  • Gannets operate in huge flocks, diving from the sky into the huge sardine shoals.
  • After feasting themselves on the Sardines, the gannets float on the water overnight in huge numbers of birds.
  • Ideal viewing points are from a boat, from the air in small aircraft or from vantage points on land, especially when being netted.
  • Sardines are prey to a wide assortment of game fish such as Geelbek, Garrick and Shad, and of course Sharks and Dolphins.
  • An adult Dusky Shark was found with 600+ sardines in its stomach.
  • Ideal Diving experience, combined with Diving Aliwal Shoal.
  • About 20 000 common dolphins pursue the “Sardine Run” frenzy up the coast KwaZulu-Natal coast from the Eastern Cape.