JUMPING THE GUN: Fishermen gathered at the Addington Beach for what turned out to be a false alarm in the sardine run.

Durban - Sardine activity along the KwaZulu-Natal coastline peaked on Monday as basket loads were being netted along a stretch from Umhlanga, in the north of Durban, to the south coast resort town of Port Edward.

“There is a hell of a lot of activity between that stretch,” said Natal Sharks Board (NSB) chief executive Mike Anderson-Reade.

“The birds are all diving for fish and spectacular stuff is happening, especially on the south coast. But two-metre swells are making it difficult to net there.”

He said thousands of Cape Gannets and Seagulls could be seen plunge-diving from considerable heights to catch the fish.

Sardines were being netted in Durban, Umhlanga, Port Shepstone, Margate, Port Edward, and Umgababa.

The delicacy was being sold at various prices but at an average rate of R400 a basket.

Fishermen have been spotted on roadways selling them by the dozen at R20.

“It looks like we are in for a bumper sardine run,” said Anderson-Reade.

The “greatest shoal on Earth” arrived on the province's south coast last Monday.

“There were small pockets and it moved up to Durban by Thursday.”

The NSB makes regular flights along the coast to track the progress of the shoals and to let the public know where they are most likely to beach or be netted.

The Sardine Run, which generally takes place around June and July, has been a popular event in KwaZulu-Natal for many years.

Last year, sardine shoals began arriving on the province's coastline in mid-July and resulted in bathing being banned for almost a month. - Sapa