Picture tens of thousands of birds plunging from the sky, feeding on the fish, with larger game fish and numerous species of sharks all feasting on the wealth of food. Bertram added that “the numbers and variety of sharks is astounding: Bronze Whalers, Zambezies, Hammerheads, Coppers and Great Whites can be seen by the hundreds. Bottlenose and Common dolphins also had to the shear excitement and these dolphins employ a hunting strategy that works the shoals into what is referred to as a “baitball”. By working together, the dolphins herd the sardines into a tight ball and push them towards the surface. The dolphins then pounce on them, gorging themselves on the tiny fish”.
According to Natal Sharks Board’s Mike Anderson-Reade ‘Lower water temperatures this year have raised hopes of a good sardine run after the “failures” of the past two years. “It’s looking good at this stage. Temperatures on the lower South Coast have dropped to 18.2C. “But we are dealing with Mother Nature, who often acts in a less than predictable manner,” he said. Warm waters have been the main culprit behind the failure of the past two years’ runs.
The sardines make their way from the Agulhas Banks in the Cape up the Wild Coast to KwaZulu-Natal each winter. Thousands of dolphins, gannets, sharks, seals and whales accompany the shoals and gorge themselves on the sardines. Tourists and locals flock to areas where the fish beach, eager to be part of the action and to catch the fish themselves. To witness these amazing spectacle either from the land, sea or the air, you can contact South Coast Tourism.
For more information on the Sardine Festival log onto www.sardinerun.co.za