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Marine Wildlife: The Sardine Run The Biggest Marine Wildlife Movement

Story Highlights

  • Marine Wildlife: The Sardine Run
  • The Sardine Run : Gannets & Dolphins
  • Marine Wildlife: Whales

South Africa host home to one of the most spectacular bucket list items in the world – the Sardine run, The Biggest Marine Wildlife Movement & Marine Spectacles. When millions of Sardines travel up the coast to spawn, thousands of predators follow. We will see thousands of dolphins, various whales like humpback or brydes as well as seals, and of course sharks.

It is not easy to find a bait ball, we will be at sea the entire day looking for signs of the cape gannets, who dive down on good sardine action. Whenever we can we roll in on the sardine feast and snorkel amongst the spectacle. If we are lucky enough to encounter a bait ball that does not move, we will get our gear on and scuba it.

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Marine Wildlife: The Sardine Run

Each year, around June, one of the most amazing marine spectacles in the animal kingdom takes place off the KwaZulu Natal coastline. Millions of sardines migrate north, following cold winter currents toward the warm Indian Ocean, a gigantic smorgasbord attracting thousands of marine predators – dolphins, sharks, seals and game fish, even occasional orcas and whales. The resultant feeding frenzy drives the shoals to the surface where they fall prey to dive bombing avian predators.

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The Sardine Run : Gannets & Dolphins

The main actors in the Sardine Run aremarine spectacles such as  the dolphins and the cape gannets. The Sardines come in super-pods of up 5000 animals and chase and coral the sardines. The gannets dive-bomb on the created Sardine Balls and can be spotted from afar. Throughout the day we will be looking for signs of gannets amassing – that is where the action will be.

Marine Wildlife: Whales

One big advantage of doing the Sardine Run  is the all-year presence of the  Brydes Whales. Bryde’s whales are the main species associated with the sardine run and of the dominant marine spectacles. Sleek and fast they are able to keep up with the other predators and will lunge feed through shoals of sardines with amazing precision.

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Marine Wildlife: Sharks

Another marine spectacles is  the most notably the huge, teeth-filled but friendly Sandtiger, known in South Africa as Ragged Tooth Shark or “Raggies”

Ragged Tooth sharks are a regular feature of the winter months at the Protea Banks. They gather there to mate, with the first males arriving first around the end of April. And numbers steadily increasing through May and in to June when the female raggies also appear. Having migrated up from the southern Cape area.

The peak of the mating season is from mid-June to the end of July. And there are literally hundreds of ragged tooth sharks patrolling the Protea Banks.



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