Sardine Run Details
The Run, THE marine adventure of the year
The Sardine Run is an annual, natural and somewhat unpredictable phenomenon. Traditionally this sardine migration starts along the Eastern Cape coast towards the end of May. It usually extends into July when the action moves further north and closer to the shore along the southern KwaZulu-Natal coast, where we will be waiting for them! Participation becomes really spectacular once the shoals appear in relatively shallow water and intermittently congregate in so-called bait balls. For their own safety, only fit and experienced photographers and divers should participate.
At Scottburgh and down South along the coast
For 2012 we have chosen the quaint coastal town Port St. Johns, some 330km south of Durban, as our base. From here we will monitors the movement of the shoal. While waiting for the shoal to make its appearance in diveable distance from shore and launch sites, we will dive with dolphins, Humpbacked whales and sharks. Once the sardine shoals have been sighted, the boat will go towards them.
10 Days, Middle June
Exactly where and when the main shoal of the Sardine Run will appear on the horizon is anyone‘s guess. We chose what we believe to be the historically best time slot for this year’s Run and in addition will be very flexible as regards launch sites to ensure the best possible action. However, the Run remains an unpredictable natural spectacle.
We us an 8 meter semi-rigid rubber duck.
Although licensed for 12 persons with the Department of Transport, the boat, also often referred to as RIB’s, Zodiac’s or semi- inflatable, will have a maximum of 8 guests onboard the boat, 10 persons including the skipper and guide. This allows for more space for elbows, bums and photographic equipment. We will also have oxygen, a DAN First Aid Kit and ship-to-shore radio on board. Anyone with a weak bladder should be aware of the fact that there is no toilet on board – so holding in, absorption and letting off steam will be at the order of the day.
The Launch – South African Style!
For first time visitors a beach launch is initially somewhat daunting but soon becomes part of the fun! Once out on the open sea the pace slackens somewhat as the boat heads towards the sardine action.
Water Temperatures and Visibility
Expect water temperatures between 19 and 21 C. Normal air temperatures vary between 15 and 25 C, it will be the middle of the South African winter. Expected underwater visibility between 4 and 15 metres.
Accommodation and Meals
Accommodation is on a per person sharing, full board basis in a comfortable guesthouse just outside Port St. Johns.
You will be picked up at the airport and transferred to Port St. Johns. Once there, transfers between the accommodation and dive site are also included.
Participation at your own Risk! (Small print emphasised)
You will spend a lot of time on a small boat at sea, far from shore, having launched through the surf line. You should be in close contact with marine life, swimming and diving among sharks and other predators in a feeding mode and frenzy. Fantastic action, but potentially dangerous above and below the water! You participate entirely at your own risk! By participating, you willingly and knowingly accept this risk without recourse to the organizers or service providers of this trip. You also accept that you have to follow the safety instruction of the organiser, skipper and dive guide and that your non-compliance to these instructions could lead to you being excluded from further participation without a warning or refund!
The nearest pressure chamber is situated in Durban up to 330 Kilometres away depending on where we dive. All participants should have an appropriate dive insurance cover, alternatively we will arrange same through DAN.
Morné Hardenberg – Underwater camera man and photographer
Paul van Dyk – Skipper and Sardine Run expert
Brocq Maxey – Dive Master & Photographer
Example of a Sardine Run Itinerary (subject to change)
Arrive in Durban. A transfer takes you from Durban Airport to Port St. Johns, about a 4 hour trip. Please confirm your flight details. Meet and greet the other divers, explore your surroundings and assemble your dive gear. During the afternoon, Morné briefs you on the happenings of the following days. Dinner at the guesthouse.
Day 2 to Day 10
Divers keep a look out for any Sardine Run activity: hundreds of dolphins at the water surface and swarms of marine birds eyeing bait balls from the sky, then diving into them. These are signs of a bait ball approaching.
Once the bait ball is in sight, decide whether to snorkel, dive or just observe from the boat. Diving usually happens in deeper waters.
Snorkelling is usually not advised, not because sharks might mistake you for a delicious tit bit, but rather because of the danger of being rammed by an open mouth with many sharp teeth. Keep at a safe distance and be attentive to what is happening around you. As soon as the swarm moves on which could be after only a couple of minutes, you get back into the boat and chase after it.
The focus here is on pure action, where divers, sharks, dolphins birds and whales meet above and below water. An exciting natural phenomena, but also potentially dangerous, especially when the sharks become hyperactive.
Most of the day is spent at sea. The rest of the time is spent relaxing on the golden beaches and exploring your surroundings. Meals are enjoyed together with the other divers, reflecting on the day’s excitement.
Sleep a bit longer, enjoy your breakfast and start packing your belongings together. You are transferred back to Durban’s King Shaka International Airport for your flight back home. The sharks, dolphins, whales, birds and millions of sardines will however remain in your memory for a long time to come.
BOLENG would love to offer you a complete package. Why not add a few days in a game reserve and, whilst detoxing. enjoy the wildlife our country has to offer. We look forward to hearing from you!