The bulk of South Africa's sardine stock is found in the cooler Cape waters, but each winter a small proportion moves eastwards up the Wild Coast

KwaZulu Natal is in the midst of a phenomenal and busy sardine run. That is the word of KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board's Mike Anderson-Reade.

“I’ve been in the business for over 40 years, and I can tell you that it’s a truly exceptional and phenomenal year,” said Anderson-Reade. “We haven’t witnessed this for ages. It’s a spectacle to see with hundreds of sharks following the shoals." 

Philip Schalkwyk, General Manager of the Blue Marlin Hotel in Scottburgh, which is part of the Dream Hotels and Resorts family, added: “These little fish have been ducking and diving for many years, but if you visit this year, there's a good chance you could witness this exciting phenomenon.” 

The bulk of South Africa's sardine stock is found in the cooler Cape waters, but each winter a small proportion moves eastwards up the Wild Coast. These shoals take advantage of a narrow band of cool water that occurs seasonally between the coast and the warm, southward flowing Agulhas Current.

Schalkwyk explains there are many theories for the decline of the Sardine run on the South Coast over the past few years. Changes in the currents, over-fishing and climate change have all been identified as possible factors.

“However, the anticipation continues to build each year between the months of June and August, when batches of sardines pass through our area, and the bird and whale action becomes quite exciting,” he says.

“The Blue Marlin Hotel’s garden is an ideal lookout point once the fish make their long-awaited appearance, while the hotel’s on-site dive centre offers a number of diving excursions during this period taking both local and international guests to the heart of the action.”

If you would like to experience the 2018 Sardine Run, Schalkwyk offers a few tips :

● Be sure to book your accommodation in advance, as many fishing enthusiasts typically flock to the KZN coastline around this time.

● If you’re looking to do some diving, be sure to book in advance through a reputable dive centre with experienced PADI instructors.  

● The winter months also mark the arrival of humpback whales. Although unrelated to the run, the whale and dolphin encounters should provide ample distraction while you wait for the sardine action to kick-off.

● Bathers need to be cautious as shark nets are typically removed from most beaches, and swimming is prohibited during this time.

“If fish don’t rock your boat, but you are a keen golfer, Scottburgh also hosts an annual three-day golf tournament in June, incorporating our three local courses," adds Schalkwyk. " The tournament is aptly called The Sardine Run,”