The Sardine Run
Did you know?
Albatrosses, petrels, penguins and whales sometimes follow the Sardine Run.
South Africa's annual Sardine Run is a marine phenomenon, one of the largest of its kind in the world, drawing 1 000s of spectators.
News of the sardines’ mass migration from Port Elizabeth races up the coast like wildfire, as sea and land inhabitants go into sardine mode and wait expectantly for the pilot shoals to appear.
The unpredictability of the shoals' arrival adds to the sense of anticipation that accompanies the appearance of these tiny silver fish around June each year. In bygone years million-strong shoals were a regular sight along the south coast of KwaZulu-Natal, but latterly, rising sea temperatures have caused the bulk of the sardines to retreat to the cooler waters of the Eastern Cape’s Wild Coast.
This doesn't mean that the KwaZulu-Natal Sardine Run is any less exciting as pilot shoals, numbering thousands, still cruise close inshore past Margate, Port Shepstone, Hibberdene, Scottburgh, Amanzimtoti and even as far as Durban's main beaches, sending locals and marine predators into fish-gathering frenzy!
Though it’s possible to watch the the greatest shoal on Earth from shore, the most exciting way to experience the Sardine Run is out at sea where all the action takes place. Super-pods of dolphins converge on massive concentrations of sardines, herding them into a bait ball. Those lucky enough to have witnessed the spectacle from a boat or by diving with the fish, describe the scene as electrifying. It’s marine mayhem, with Bryde's whales breaching, dolphins leaping, and gannets raining down like arrows all around as they attempt to spear some edible quicksilver for dinner.
Below the waves, the drama intensifies, and if you’re an experienced scuba diver, you can observe the sardines’ struggle to evade hungry sharks and game fish. When the visibility is good, snorkellers can also glimpse the unforgettable battlefield
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
South Coast Tourism
Phone: +27 (0) 39 682 7944
Fax: +27 (0) 39 682 1034
Cell: 086 570 5688
Wild Coast Holiday Association
Phone: +27 (0) 43 74361281
Fax: +27 (0) 43 7436188
Mobile Number: +27 (0)83 2995300