It’s never too early to start your planning for the annual South African sardine run!
From June to July, every year, South Africa plays host to one of the most sensational displays of marine life prowess. Millions of sardines begin their migration up the east coast, luring out both ocean and air predators in a spectacle that can last up to 3 months. Past seasons have been relatively quiet, but last year broke this lull and the sardines arrived in huge numbers, much to the delight of tourists, fishermen and the anyone wanting to catch a couple of sardines for themselves.
The sardine run is one of our busiest times of the year. Dive the Big 5 plans numerous trips for guests wanting to witness this event from the comfort of a boat as well as for those who want to take a dip in the deep. We’ve already started taking bookings for the 2019 season and we encourage anyone wanting to join, to make their booking as soon as possible.
Our trips leave out of 3 locations; Kentani, Port St Johns and East London. Each trip provides guests with up to 6 days (depending on the package chosen) to experience the Sardine Run.
About the 2019 Sardine Run and how to view it
As last year’s run was celebrated as being quite successful, there are high hopes for this year’s migration. But as with anything else to do with nature, it is next to impossible to predict what the outcome will be. Guests will certainly enjoy a unique trip, regardless of the amount of sardines they get to see, as the South African coast is filled with all sorts of marine life, some of which can be seen from the boat.
Those opting to go diving during the sardine run are in for an even more spectacular adventure. Diving during the sardine run is certainly not for the light hearted. It takes stamina and some experience to do it safely. Considering the number of predators in the water during the run, as well as the ocean conditions, being fit, calm and in good health are all a must! Spending up to 5 hours a day scuba diving means you have to have your qualifications in order. An open water certification is a necessity.
Not keen on staying in the boat, but also not qualified to scuba dive? No problem! Why not go snorkelling? To do this, you’ll need to be a more than competent swimmer and you’ll need to have some knowledge about using a mask, fins and snorkel.
Guests need to know that the sardines will not show up on cue, even if all of the conditions are perfect. The sardines are on their own mission, and although we’d like them to read our itinerary, we’ve had to accept that they will turn up when they are ready. This means that even if you were to spend 5 days diving, snorkelling or simply observing comfortably from the boat, you might only have 2 days of sardines.
The sardines like colder waters. So if the temperature of the waters closer to shore doesn’t drop to 19 degrees Celsius, the sardines will linger further out to sea. The one upside of this, should the sardines stay away, is that the predators are still expecting them, and will be in the area. All are waiting for the arrival of the sardines, giving you the opportunity to see thousands of sharks, whales, dolphins, seagulls, seals and penguins. Your tour will be anything but uneventful!