The Sardine Run – The Greatest Shoal on Earth!
Witness this spectacular and unforgettable experience. Birds divebomb the sardines while dolphins, sharks and game fish work in teams to herd the sardines into bait bails and to the surface for a feeding frenzy. White clouds of Cape Gannets plunge into water for the feast.
The Sardine run occurs from June to July when millions of sardines move northward along the east coast of South Africa from the Agulhas bank. The sheer numbers create a feeding frenzy along the coastline. The shoals can reach up to 7 km long,1.5 km wide and 30 meters deep and are visible from the surface or air.
Both local and international tourists are attracted to this spectacle. The most exciting way to witness this action is on a boat-based expedition. This adventure is for scuba divers, snorkellers, non-divers, dolphin and whale enthusiasts and all nature lovers.
The Sardine run is much more than glistening shoals of sardines, it involves many marine animals. Great White Sharks, Copper Sharks, Common Dolphins, game fish and birds pursue the shoals northwards along the east coast of South Africa.
During the same time Ragged Tooth sharks congregate at Aliwal Shoal to mate and Humpback and Southern Right whales migrate north along the KwaZulu-Natal coast.
Why do the Sardines migrate?
Sardines are typically found in water between 14 °C and 20 °C.
During the South African winter months of June to August, the penetration of cooler water eastwards along the Eastern Cape coast towards Port St Johns, expands the habitat for the sardines. It is likely that a cool north flowing current, inshore off the warm Agulhas current (that flows soutwards), can be one of the factors responsible for the large shoals of sardines along the coast of Port St.Johns.
This cool band of water inshore is critical to the Run. If the water is too warm (> 20 °C) the sardines will remain in the cooler water further south or move further offshore and at greater depths where the water is cooler.
Sardines have a short life cycle of 2-3 years. Spawning takes place in the spring and summer months off the Southern Cape on the Agulhas Banks. Each females release tens of thousands of eggs into water, which are then fertilized by the males. The eggs drift with the current in a westerly and then northerly direction into the nutrient rich waters off the South African west coast. The larva mature and develop into juvenile fish which congregate into dense shoals and migrate southwards, returning to the Agulhas Banks in order to complete their life cycle.
The Sardine Run adventure:
The Sardine Run is a diving and sea safari expedition. We will be based in Port St Johns where we can cover the waters both North and South of there.
Our team will include two 8m Semi-Rigid twin motor vessels skippered by experienced skippers, guides, support staff and our own spotter plane and pilot. We will limit the number of persons per boat to 8 divers or snorkelers.
Adventure Duration – Six nights with five full days on the water.This increases the chances of success and also helps with bad weather days and variable degrees of marine activity.
Adventure expedition Dates 2014
- 22 June – 28 June
- More dates can be arranged on request
- Day 1 – Arrive at Port st.Johns
- Day 2 to 6
7h00 – Full breakfast (or packed breakfast for early launches)
7h00 – Microlight takes off and begins recon
8h00 – Boats launch
8h00 – 14h00 Onboard – Light lunch and refreshments available onboard
14h30 – Approximate time back
16h00 – Afternoon optional activity
19h00 – Dinner
- Day 7 – Breakfast and depart to destination
Pricing – R19800 (ZAR) per person, based on two persons sharing. Single supplement R2500 on accommodation.
- Accommodation - Six (6) nights in a hotel/lodge
- Meals - Full or packed breakfast based on the launch time, light lunch and refreshments on boat, dinner
- Dedicated boats and spotter plane
- Guest Flight – Weather permitting each guest will get to fly in our microlight and experience the Wild Coast from the air
- Equipment - Airfills, cylinders, weightbelts
- Other activities arranged on days when we can not launch.
Diving or Snorkeling - Five (5) days on the water or alternate activity based on conditions
- Dive equipment and gear rental - BCD, regulator, mask, fins, snorkel, wetsuit
- Beverages and alcohol
- Transfers to/from Port St.Johns
- Transfers to/from Durban airport can be arranged.
- Gratuities - At guest discretion
- Snorkelers are welcome on this trip.
- Scuba divers must hold at least an Advanced Diver Certification. Divers must present their dive cards and/or logbooks upon arrival.
- Clothing - Wind/rain wear, waterproof jacket, smart casual wear, towel, waterproof holdall for the boat and something warm for the cooler evenings
- Other - Sun protection, headwear, eye protection, binoculars,
The following activities are used as substitutes on days when we are unable to launch.
- Microlight Flight - Each guest will get a chance to fly in our microlight and see the Wild Coast from the air
- Magnificent Trails - Some of the most beautiful countryside in South Africa also hosts some of the highest waterfalls where fresh water tumbles 300 ft into the sea
- Cultural Experience - Visit an authentic rural African village
- Horse Riding - Ride the trails along Waterfall Bluff.
These activities can also be done as an excluded addon to the tour price.
Accommodation: Accommodation is in hotels or lodges with full amenities and excellent service. Enjoy spectacular views of this wild and undeveloped part of Africa, wonderful cuisine and warm South African hospitality in this beautiful region.
Weather & Conditions - June/ July are winter months on the Wild Coast. Wet weather is possible but unlikely. During the winter season water temperatures can vary between 15-21°C . A minimum of a 5mm wetsuit with booties, hoody and gloves are recommended. A 7mm semi-dry will be more appropriate for divers who get cold easily.
- Air Temperature: 15-24°C
- Water Temperature : 15-21°C
Conditions vary from flat glass-like seas with little wind to big rollers with strong winds, this can be an adrenaline rush, very exciting and sometimes strenuous. Safety is always our first priority and we operate accordingly. Visibility varies from 2 to 20m.
Equipment Required - We strongly recommend that divers bring their own gear because using gear that you are familiar and comfortable with is important for this type of adventure diving. Minimum personal gear - Wetsuit, mask, fins, snorkel, BCD, regulator.
Equipment can be rented on location.
Physical Fitness - The Sardine Run can be physically challenging. Because of the manner of the boat launching and beaching and possible uncomfortable sea conditions it is advisable that those of limited mobility, frailty,serious medical conditions or with back problems limit themselves to land based viewing.
Insurance - We recommend full DAN coverage for all guests while on the Sardine Run.
We have knowledge of the environment and we take every possible precaution to ensure the safety of our guests, both on and off the water.
As nature follows its own course we can not guarantee the sighting of the sardines for this whole period, but we are sure it will be an unforgettable experience.
Pre-booking is essential to assure your participation in this adventure. For bookings and more info contact us at +27 (0)12 3612617 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact us if with special request regarding the length of your stay, transfers etc.
We can also make arrangements for the following for guests:
- Great White diving in Gansbaai
- Diving with Ragged tooth sharks at Aliwal shoal
- Diving with Tiger sharks at Aliwal shoal
- Witness the Big five at game reserves in Northern Kwazulu Natal
- Scuba diving on the pristine reefs of Sodwana bay, Northern Kwazulu Natal