Whales ahead of Sardine Run

Waters teeming with whales ahead of Sardine Run

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Whales and dolphins are getting ready to feast on sardines ahead of the annual and eagerly awaited Sardine Run on the KZN South Coast.

Excitement is all round with sardines having been spotted at various sites around the Eastern Cape as they make their way up to the KZN South Coast. In the meantime, big shoals of baitfish off Southbroom and Port Edward have given the predators a chance to rehearse for the ultimate Sardine Run.

The Sardine Run is a natural phenomenon when millions of sardines travel in giant shoals offering pelagic predators along the way a tasty feast. The bait balls are often driven close to the shores to the delight of Cape Gannets, onlookers and fishing charters, who race out and bring in their catch for everyone to enjoy. Seen from the shores, this creates a spectacular frenzy of activity with nets and bucket loads of silvery fish everywhere. The Sardine Run off the KZN South Coast is one of South Africa’s bucket list items for local and international travellers, who try time their arrival with that of the sardines. The sardines generally arrive anytime from May to August, but all indicators are that they will arrive early this year, possibly between June and July, perfect timing for the school holidays.  

According to the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board “numerous shoals of various species of bait fish can be seen off the KZN coast on a daily basis, especially during calm sea conditions. The first positive signs of heavy predator activity was seen just south of Mazeppa Point on the Eastern Cape Coast. This area is still some 200km south of KwaZulu-Natal and it may well be some time before they eventually reach KwaZulu-Natal. This however does not exclude the possibility of some small shoals of sardines currently occurring off the KZN coast.” Mike Anderson-Reade, Head of Operations added that shark safety gear remains in place at all protected beaches along the way.   

To keep everyone entertained during this time, the KZN South Coast puts on a diverse and comprehensive events calendar. A Sardine Beach Festival held at various beaches include beach sports from volleyball to touch rugby, competitions and giveaways. Major events not to miss include the South Coast Lions Show, the Umtamvuna Sardine Festival, the South Coast Fever MTB Series, the Mercury Ski Boat Festival, the Annual Sardine Run Golf Tournament, the Ugu Jazz and Arts Festival and the Ramsgate Book & Art Festival. And for a cultural experience, don’t miss the Maidens Ceremony and the newly launched Great Drives Out – 4 authentic culture & heritage experiences in the hinterland that showcases attractions such as rock art, waterfalls, holy mountains, sangomas and the traditional homestead of local reality TV superstars, the polygamist Mseleku family, all within scenic surroundings.

CEO of Ugu South Coast Tourism, Justin Mackrory, says the KZN South Coast is awaiting the arrival of its winter holidaymakers with as much anticipation as the sardines. “We welcome all families who are looking forward to our sunny weather during the holidays and am sure they will greatly enjoy the line-up of exciting Sardine Season events.”

After two weeks of intermittent water supply challenges, Mackrory had this to say “KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Willies Mchunu has resolved the stalemate between parties who were in dispute over wages. As part of the agreement, water supply has been restored as a matter of urgency and any outstanding matters are to be handled in a legal framework under his supervision.” He expressed his relief that the matter was resolved in time for the Sardine Season and concluded that it’s business as usual for the KZN South Coast, appealing to travellers for their continued support. “If anyone still has any doubts regarding their bookings, I urge you to get in touch with the establishments directly to get reassurance, or to contact the various holiday letting agents. Most of our establishments are equipped with backup water supply to ensure guests are not affected and, as was the case in the past, water tankers are also made available throughout the coast when there is a need.”   

Mackrory added that the KZN South Coast is still a favourite winter destination due to the great weather, but most of all, it fits everyone’s pockets, making family holidays affordable and possible. “You won’t find better value than on the KZN South Coast. Our establishments are currently offering great Sardine Specials too, which you can find on our website.”

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