Excitement mounts ahead of KZN’s annual sardine run

A supplied image from a previous year’s sardine run in KZN. Picture: SCTIE

A supplied image from a previous year’s sardine run in KZN. Picture: SCTIE

Published May 24, 2024


KwaZulu-Natal is gearing up for the annual sardine run — a spectacle on the province's calendar.

Dubbed the 'Greatest Shoal on Earth', the sardine run takes place in the months of June and July when the sea water is much colder.

According to the South Coast Tourism & Investment Enterprise (SCTIE), there are also factors that influence when the thousands of small silver fish actually arrive in KZN.

“The water needs to cool so it’s best to wait for the confirmed reports when the water temperature drops. On the KZN South Coast, it’s believed that when the aloes are in full bloom, the annual sardine run is on its way,” the SCTIE said.

The sardines move along the province's coastline, migrating in massive shoals, attracting dolphins, sharks, whales, seabirds, game fish and other marine predators.

“It’s believed the sardine run happens because of the sardines’ reproductive cycle. The sardines originate from South Africa's cool-temperate Atlantic coast, moving along the coastline to the temporary cold-water upwelling off the southeast coast,” SCTIE said.

The annual event is monitored by the KZN Sharks Board who then remove shark safety gear so the animals can move freely.

Wayne Harrison of the KZN Sharks Board said there has already been significant activity along East London.

“There have been a lot of big game fish spotted, as well as Bryde’s whales, with bait balls in the north East London region. So far, it looks as if this will be a good year for the Sardine Run which is heading this way, but we are certainly monitoring the activity and will keep the public updated,” he said.

How and where to view the sardine run:

Charter boats — There are charter boats available for hire. These include watching from the boat, snorkelling or scuba diving at Aliwal Shoal or Protea Banks, or deep-sea fishing.

Viewing decks — Umtentweni Conservancy Whale Deck, Ramsgate Whale Deck, Impithi Beach Kiosk, and Umdoni Golf Club Whale Deck.

Restaurants — There are many ocean-facing eateries along the stretch.

Aerial — You may hire a microlight, helicopter, or light aircraft. There are experienced local pilots who organise flights over this ocean spectacle.

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