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Monday, November 24th 2014

The Sardine Run

Have you ever seen videos of giant bait balls being chased by large fish? Most of these videos have been shot in South Africa during the sardine run. The sardine run of southern Africa occurs from May through July when billions of sardines spawn in the cool waters of the Agulhas Bank and move northward along the east coast of South Africa.

Their sheer numbers create a feeding frenzy along the coastline. The run, containing millions of individual sardines, occurs when a current of cold water heads north from the Agulhas Bank up to Mozambique where it then leaves the coastline and goes further east into the Indian Ocean.

In terms of biomass, researchers estimate the sardine run could rival East Africa’s great wildebeest migration. However, little is known of the phenomenon. It is believed that the water temperature has to drop below 21 °C in order for the migration to take place.

Close your eyes for a few minutes and imagine yourself scuba diving at 10 metres  with perfect buoyancy in blue water. Yes we know it is hard to imagine yourself with perfect buoyancy, but try! Now imagine schools of sardines swimming ahead of you in large numbers.  Then comes the dolphins rounding up the sardines into bait balls. These bait balls can be 10–20 metres in diameter and extend to a depth of 10 metres. Once the sardines are rounded up, sharks, game fish and birds take advantage of the opportunity. It is truly spectacular!

The incredible things about this is that this does not have to be a dream or a great video from National Geographic. This is something any scuba diver can experience. During a nine day trip to South Africa you can do over 14 dives in various sardine runs across the coast. As you know, South Africa also has a lot to offer on land to extend your trip and make it a trip of a lifetime.

Our environment is changing everyday and no one truly knows what creates this phenomena. In 2003, the sardines failed to run for the third time in 23 years. While 2005 saw a good run, 2006 marked another non-run. Don’t leave this trip too long! Click here for more details and contact us to book a trip today!

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Underwater Armageddon – Nature’s Great Events: The Great Tide – BBC One

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