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LOCAL TIME: 07:52 pm | Monday, 26 February
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Southern Cross Cruises – Official Whale & Dolphin Watching Tour Operator

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With winter fast approaching, it is time for one of natures most amazing spectacles to start.  Named the ‘Greatest shoal on earth’, the annual Sardine Run is the largest migration on this planet and takes place each May, June & July just off our coast.

Until recently, East London has not had a Tour Operator with a boat based Whale & Dolphin watching permit, which has meant that this wonderful spectacle has been largely inaccessible to the people living in our city.  This year however, all that has changed.  John & Kathinka Barry from Southern Cross Cruises have been awarded the only boat based Whale & Dolphin watching permit in East London.  This has opened up exciting opportunities for locals and visitors wishing to experience these wonderful animals and these spectacular events up close.

Ocean Cruise on Inyathi

The Sardine Run starts in the winter months off the Cape coast and makes it’s way up the East Coast as it heads for KwaSulu-Natal.  The sardine’s prefer cooler waters however they are pushed up a cool channel along the east coast and when they pass our Wild Coast… the spectacle comes into it’s own.  Here in the cool narrow channel, the sardines are concentrated into bait balls which are attacked from above and below in a frenzied spectacle.

Sardine Run Collage

The massive shoals of sardines (also known as pilchards) attract a huge following in the form of large game fish (geelbeek, garrick & shad), dolphins, sharks (the copper, blacktip, dusky & spinner), Cape seals and a wide range of birds such as Cape gannets, gulls, turns and cormorants. This eager following, including humans, join in the frenzy to get their share of this annual bounty.  Following them are larger predators such as great white sharks who prey on the seals and other large prey.  The sardine run is so bountiful it even attracts the largest of them all – the whales.

June also brings the southern right whales to our coastline.  Without a boat based whale & dolphin watching permit, boats are not allowed within 300m of these animals.  As the only permitted Tour Operator with a boat based whale and dolphin permit, John and Kathinka at Southern Cross Cruises are the people to contact.  Call them on 082 938 6275 to find out more about about their Whale & Dolphin watching packages – an exciting addition to East London Marine Tourism.

For more information on Southern Cross Cruises, you can visit their website or read more about the wonderful cruises they have to offer.

Article:  Sandy Loppnow

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