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Sardine Run, KwaZulu-Natal Coastline


Sardine Run, KwaZulu Natal coastline

The KwaZulu-Natal coast lights up with a frenzy of excitement each year when the annual Sardine Run starts, as thousands of visitors flock to the coast to witness this migration of millions of sardine.  This phenomenon has been described and named as “The Greatest Shoal On Earth” due to the sheer volume of small glistening silver small fish than can be seen from space.

The Sardine Run occurs every year between May and July.  Shoals as big as 20 – 30km long, 3km wide and up to 30m deep can be seen.  The Sardine Run is more than just masses of sardines moving up the coast – the food chain moves into action attracting a range of exciting predators.

Great White Sharks, Copper Sharks, Common Dolphins (previously estimated at 20 000), and Cape Gannets are four key predators that pursue the shoals northwards along the east coast of South Africa.  These sharks and dolphins often work in synchronised harmony forcing the sardines into huge “bait balls”, only to be consumed.  Cape Gannets plunge into the water like jet fighter planes. The South Coast offers several vantage points along its magnificent 120km long coastline for you to take full advantage of the experience.

This spectacular event also attracts scuba divers from all across the globe to view this phenomenon, providing excellent photographic opportunities. You can dive with the Sardines (including the reefs, wrecks and sharks) at Aliwal Shoal, Protea Banks and Rocky Bay, as they migrate northwards along the coast. This also just happens to be when the Ragged Tooth Sharks congregate to mate.  Your diving experience could include huge moray eels, turtles, rays, brindle bass, whales, dolphins and much more.

Humpback Whales and Southern Right Whales are present during this time of the year too, a mere coincidence as they have never been seen feeding on the sardines.

The KwaZulu Natal coast is almost as busy at this time of year as the festive season, as many locals and visitors enjoy a full programme of entertainment which includes music shows and cultural activities.

Although the sardine run takes place between May and July every year it is advisable to check with the people who know:

The Natal Sharks Board offers a Sardine Run hotline 082 284 9495

More info on the town of Sezela More info on the Umdoni Coast area

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