In the crisp air of winter, South Africa’s east coast is home to a breathtaking annual migration of millions of sardines.
The trip attracts marine predators, and the result is an awesome feeding frenzy.
“This is a super pod of common dolphins, so … you just saw the breach there. Thousands and thousands of common dolphins and these guys are always seen associated with the sardine run”, said marine biologist, Michelle Carpenter.
Separated from the main shoal, which can be several kilometres long, they are surrounded and then herded up from the deep sea to the surface by the dolphins.
The feast can now begin.
This choreographed dance of nature is possible because of the symbiotic relationship between the different predators.
“Sardines are always looking for depth, for protection… so they try to go down deep. And that’s where the sharks come in. The sharks are at the bottom, stopping them from going down. So you have the sharks at the bottom, you have the dolphins around the edges. You can see all those dolphins, you can see how they’re jumping around like that, they’re basically stopping the sardines from running away”, said diving instructor, Gary Snodgrass.
Countless dolphins and sharks hunt along the shoals. It’s a spectacular sight that delight tourists lucky enough to find them.
“It was great. Oh my God, what an experience! If you haven’t had that you’re not living. you gotta have that, that is an amazing experience”, said American diver, Natalie Kortum.
The “sardine run” lasts several months, usually peaking in July.
Their binge will be repeated over and over during the next three to four months of the migration, until the sardines disappear back into the open ocean.
The reason behind the “sardine run” is not exactly known. But scientists believe it is linked to their reproductive cycle.
Source: AFRICA NEWS