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11 Jun 2023

Sardine Run should be on every diver’s logbook

Precious Gumede (South Coast Herald) Picture: Ryan Daly. A shark chases a shoal of sardines.

While summer is often considered the best time for the seaside, winter on the KZN South Coast is the ultimate diving experience as the cooler water brings with it the #greatestshoalonearth – the annual Sardine Run! The planet’s greatest biomass migration and the ocean spectacle should be on every diver’s bucket list, and for those who haven’t experienced this diving phenomenon, then 2023 is the year.

“With two of the world’s top dive sites at Aliwal Shoal and Protea Banks, the KZN South Coast has long been an attractive destination for divers from across the globe, but the Sardine Run is undoubtedly one of the most exciting times to experience this beautiful part of the world as the ocean is alive with action,” commented Phelisa Mangcu, CEO of South Coast Tourism and Investment Enterprise (SCTIE).

The Sardine Run is an annual event where shoals of silver fish head northwards close to the shoreline, attracting a host of marine life looking to feast. Cape gannets can be seen diving into the waters, while dolphins, game fish and even brydes whales pursue the tasty shoals. Sharks, from copper and dusky to blacktip and spinners will also join in the feast. Seine netters can also be seen entering the waters to get their share, with sardines added to a number of delicious local delicacies.

Roland Mauz of African Dive Adventures has been taking keen divers on the Sardine Run experience since the start of the operation in 1996. The Shelly Beach-based diver operation takes divers out to the incredible Protea Banks and Aliwal Shoal dive sites – both Marine Protected Areas – as well as wherever the Sardine Run action is happening.

“Diving on the KZN South Coast, let alone during sardine season, is a highlight on every diver’s logbook,” explained Mauz.

Mauz said this is a world-renowned natural phenomenon: “To experience this spectacle is a privilege that should not be missed. Along the KZN South Coast, the best places to view the Sardine Run are around Port Edward, with visitors who book packages treated to an incredible adventure in the wild. Boats are in the fray of the marine animal action from morning to late afternoon. Visitors can snorkel, freedive, and scuba dive on a sardine bait ball, watching the entire marine food chain at work. Divers find themselves in super pods of literally thousands of dolphins, seeing hundreds of humpback whales from near and far!”

To find out more about the Sardine Run and other tourism events and sites, simply download the free ‘Explore KZN South Coast’ app from Google Play and Apple stores. Follow the hashtags #greatestshoalonearth #sardinerun #sardinerun2023 #kznsouthcoast #extendyourstay #seakznsouthcoast .