Travelers Diary: Head to the Kwa-Zulu Natal Coast to run with the sardines.

When: Ongoing till July 2016

Where: KwaZulu-Natal coast

The Sardine run is a marine spectacle at its best . A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to view creatures of the earth, sky and water taking part in one of nature’ s unexplained mysteries. Around June each year, word gets out along the KwaZulu-Natal coast that the sardines have arrived. They swim for more than 30 days from their spawning ground in the Cape to reach South Africa’s east coast. Scores of fishermen join the sharks, game fish, marine mammals and birds that gorge themselves on the shimmer.

Being a part of this great phenomenon is an opportunity that should not be missed! Why large shoals of sardines swim to the KwaZulu-Natal coast during the winter months remains a mystery. And yet each year it s the same: starting in May, millions of small, shiny fish make the one-way journey from the cold waters of the Cape to the warmer tides of KwaZulu-Natal, colouring the shoreline silver as they convene close to the coast. By the end of July they are gone . disappeared just as suddenly as they arrived, vanishing into the great blue beyond. You can watch as dolphins employ a tactical hunting strategy by herding part of the sardine shoal into densely packed groups, termed bait balls. Working together underwater the dolphins drive the bait ball toward the surface, whirling, twisting and swimming below the shoal. Also, as the sardines move closer to the surface of the water, birds plummet out of the sky to pillage from above. Cape gannets, cormorants, terns and gulls all dive-bomb the  coast in an unrelenting aerial assault. You can also witness game fishermen and local sardine lovers wade into the water and secure their share in areas where the sardines swim very close to the coast.


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