A Marine Wildlife Festival – The Sardine Run Expedition is a unique experience, exploring the annual sardine migration along South Africa's rugged coastline. Sardine fever hits the Wild Coast in June each year, the annual migration of sardines, the "Sardine Run". They begin life in the waters of the Southern Cape, forming large shoals and move northwards forming "the greatest shoal on earth" (1000 tons). Feeding on the sardines are game fish such as Shad and Garrick and thousands of dolphins. Approx. 10,000 bottlenose dolphins swim along the Wild Coast within spitting distance of the rocky shores feasting on their easiest meal of the year. There are also multitudes of sea birds: species of albatross – yellownose, blackbrowed and shy petrels, Cape gannets, several tern species and even a penguin or two, not to mention the occasional fur seal following the shoal enjoying this free marine buffet. Sightings of humpback whales are common. After several weeks of migrating northwards, the sardines swim out to sea and are carried along the inner edge of the Agulhas Current back to the south to spawn.
This expedition was created to allow participants to follow and witness the mobile Eco-system. For the photographer the "action" opportunities are amazing. Being in the middle of this incredible phenomenon while predator and prey fight for their existence can humble one in the face of nature's huge ferocity. It must be mentioned at this point that the Sardine Run is a natural phenomenon, therefore the exact timing cannot be predicted. From the middle of June to July have been chosen, as it appears that this is the time that the Sardines generally appear along the stretch of coastline (according to historical data).
The shoals are sighted by the telltale signs of dolphins and game fish splashing at the surface or by flocks of birds diving into the water. Once the boat gets into position in the line of the shoal's movement, you will enter the water and watch as the wave of life passes by. This can last up to twenty minutes. You will then board the boat again and continue searching for further action. Whereas it is possible to scuba dive, it becomes tiring and time consuming, that is the reason why snorkeling is the preferred option when in the water.
Over the last couple of years there have been numerous television documentaries as well as articles in travel and adventure publications. Now is your opportunity to experience it first hand.
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