Revisiting the Topic of Sardines
The Sardine Run and all of the excitement that comes along with it is just a few months away. We thought that it is the best time to brush up on sardines.
- It is believed that the name Sardine comes from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, where sardines were abundant in the 15th
- Sardines are in the same family as Herring, namely Clupeidae.
- These small oily fish are rich in nutrients and consumed the world over and not only by humans but also seabirds, marine mammals and larger fish. Sardines along with other small pelagic fish account for about ¼ of all the marine fish caught throughout the world. Most of us know sardines as an omega-3 fatty acid mostly enjoyed from tins purchased at the local grocer, but these fish can also be purchased fresh and then grilled, pickled or smoked.
- Sardines are also used for commercial fishing purposes or made into fish meal or oil that is used in animal feeds. Sardine oil is also used in the manufacture of paint, varnish or linoleum.
- Sardines live mostly in the upper layers of the ocean, to a depth of about 200m. At dusk, sardines move closer to the surface of the water and at dawn, they move into deeper water. This phenomenon is known as Diurnal Vertical Migration. This means that they follow the light. Diurnal migration is used as a defence system from predators. As sardines move to the surface they scatter, and when they descend again they concentrate on forming shoals.
- Sardines are well camouflaged from predators by their colouring. Their abdomens are lighter than their backs. Swarming together when predators are closing in on them confuses the predator, as predators are then not sure how big their prey is. Predators also then struggle to single out one sardine in the group. Safety in numbers really works for these fish!
- Sardines live off phytoplankton and zooplankton. They play an important role in the marine food chain as they, by been consumed by larger fish, sea birds and marine mammals, then transfer the energy produced by the plankton to their predators.
- Although Sardines can live up to an age eight years and measure up to 25cm from the tip of head to tail, they do have a very high mortally rate and rarely reach that age or size.
Why are Sardines so healthy?
- Sardines are an excellent source of protein and because they feed on plankton, they contain much less mercury and other heavy metals that are found in larger fish.
- As the sun becomes a place we avoid, so more and more people are Vitamin D deficient. One can of sardines give you about half of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin D you need.
- Sardines are a rich source of selenium. Selenium is needed for our bodies to produce glutathione while it is also important for maintaining a healthy thyroid. Sardines are consumed with their skin and bones, thus making sardines a great way to get 1/3 of the calcium we need in one tin in its most absorbable way.
Spots for the Sardine Run are filling up and if you want to make sure that you don’t miss this year excitement, be sure to book your place today!
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!
Dive the Big 5 makes it easier for guests from all over the world to come diving in South Africa. The sardine run is around the corner and if you want to experience the 2019 migration, now is the best time to make your booking!
Diving in South Africa doesn’t always offer the best of visibility. Depending on the time of the year and the location, sometimes seeing the magical underwater world beneath the waves is not as easy as you think. And when having to deal with a foggy diving mask, all of the excitement you’ve been feeling, all of the anticipation for the bright colours and open ocean you had expected to see, can be somewhat dampened.
The 2018 Sardine Run season is heating up and almost coming to an end. One of our recent expeditions was one that became the perfect example of a realistic dive, rather than an idealistic run. This is exactly what could happen during a 5-day dive. While the sardines could be elusive, there is so much else to see below the waves!
We’ve hit all the best places to dive in South Africa. We’ve sourced the best locations, the best operators and we’re arranged the best diving itineraries. Leaving no stone unturned, we make sure that our divers leave the dive site with a wide smile…even when the sharks and other fish don’t follow the plan we’ve laid out.
Most divers would agree that there is only so much diving you can do before you get a little tired of being in the water. It’s not really realistic to spend days on end diving, especially when there are quiet periods when you might see nothing, and as a result, get quite bored.
Umkomaas is the perfect town for divers. It is home to the Aliwal Shoal, a destination that is incredibly popular amongst divers for its shark diving opportunities. It is also an incredible wreck diving location, leaving divers with plenty of underwater activities to keep them busy.