The Sardine Run, the greatest shoal on earth

by spotmydive

Hello divers today the topic will deal with the phenomenon Sardine Run : yes the sardine race sounds more like a comic race of 20 000 leagues under the sea but it is not. If we think to control our ecosystem, it is because pride blinds us, and the sardine which is paying of its natural inclinations are becoming rare in the Mediterranean sea … The strange phenomenon that is the Sardine Run is still a mystery that we will discover together.

Sardine Run or the frenetic migration of sardines

Nature lovers can not ignore this extraordinary phenomenon, this magnificent landscape is unfortunatly a real natural carnage that is perpetuated almost every year except in 2003 and 2006 the sardines did not migrate for the third time in 23 years … Yet instinct is often more persuasive than marathon predators and sardines migrating from California to the east coast of South Africa face all the dangers to perpetuate their species. Between May and July millions of sardines grouped in banks along southern Africa in waters at optimal temperature between 18 and 22 degrees Port St Johns is their sacred place, a place of birth but also massacre.

The phenomenon of the Sardine Run, involuntary collective suicide

To observe this unique show, 8 hours of sailing is expected in your schedule because see the sardine is a real race to the shallot! You will need to be ambitious and very patient to maximize your chances of encountering wildlife. Sardines gather when there is a threat and this instinctive natural defense mechanism is particularly evident in shark strategy. The number of these potential prey creates a real frenzy both in the air and in the sea. Along the coast all kinds of predators cling to throw on these sardines grouped: sharks, sea lions, dolphins, whales, cape, terns, albatrosses, and cormorants are all present “to enjoy the meal”. Well organized and well-choreographed, the sardines are grouped together, and the bait balls are formed and measure 10 to 20 meters to a depth of 10 meters. Generally, “bait ball” does not last more than 10 minutes just enough to attract strategic predators like dolphins! This hunt is a real chaotic show because although sardines participate in the race of their life, they become despite themselves attractive meals for hungry predators.

A unique show

The frenzied run of the Sardine Run is a crazy race for the survival of their species, it is the spectacle of an erratic theater naturally sublimated. The ocean is alive and well and you will be able to see this disarticulated ballet, you will see sardines escape the dolphins but be crunched by a bill of gull on the surface of the water in a noisy atmosphere because this carnage is far from silent!

Diving condition

The big waves and the winds of the South-African coasts are very powerful, moreover the launching of the boats “rather old-fashioned” encourages to the prudence because to see the sardine is a true course of the combatant. Sports dives will allow you to live a unique experience because attending birth and death at the same time is the paradox of a lifetime.

Where to see the Sardine Run

To be sure of participate and attend this show, you must calculate and book in advance but do not be disappointed if the sardines do not migrate: it’s Mother Nature who decides ! The epic Sardine Run takes place along the Wild Coast of South Africa between June – July almost each year. This spectacle is the largest marine migration on the planet and an uncontested bucket list item for any diver. Bait balls swirl through the water attracting predators from miles away. Sharks, whales, dolphins, marlin and others attack from below, Cape Gannets and Gulls attack from above…and in the middle…is you. Nomad Dive Sardine Run tour is jam packed with excitement and thrills. With full air support, experienced boat captains and crew and an exclusive location you will certainly experience one of the most exciting diving experiences on the planet.

Sardine in the process of extinction?

The sardine is not yet threatened but it is victim of overfishing and particularly in the Mediterranean sea. A gradual degradation is gaining strength and if we do not change the rules of the game to better control quotas our ecosystem will be disturbed.
In life I never lose, I either win or learn, this famous punch line made in Nelson Mandela is to use without moderation during your briefings or dinners with friends! Knowledge is non-negotiable and we should apply these words no matter what as they relate to our humanity, they are a true personal experience. Our leitmotiv at Spotmydive is to share our diving experience and our goal is to make you discover real nuggets of beauty : the sardine run is one of them : enjoy the show !

Written by Florence Fifi