The KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) Sharks Board has announced increased sardine activity. The announcement was made after an observational flight to Port St Johns on June 14, that revealed activity in the area between Waterfall Bluff and Port St Johns.

The annual Sardine Run follows the movement of the small silver fish as they make their way northwards up South Africa’s east coast. The sheer volume of sardines brings with it a number of other marine species including dolphins, sharks, Bryde’s whales, Cape gannets and seagulls.

In a statement released on Friday, June 15, following the scouting flight, Mike Anderson-Reade, Head of Operations at KZN Sharks Board said: “The real action, that is sardine shoals accompanied by thousands of dolphins, Cape gannets and sharks were clearly visible from just north of Mkhambati southwards to Umgazana, which is to the south of Port St Johns.”

Anderson-Reade added that activity such as this had not been observed so near to KZN for a number of years.

Abie Wentzel, Project Manager: Tourism Operations at Tourism KwaZulu-Natal said: “The sardines do not reach KZN every year, but there is always a big hype around the Sardine Run.”

Wentzel went on to add that the Sardine Run can be compared to the Great Migrations of the Serengeti, saying: “This is the largest migration in the world of marine animals. It is a huge wildlife attraction for visitors.”

However, both Wentzel and Anderson-Reade reiterate that despite early signs looking good, no one can predict when, or even if, the coast of KZN will see any of the action. Wentzel said: “We hope the fish make their way up to Durban so that we can experience the event with our tourists.”

Anderson-Reade said: “Should the fish continue northwards, it appears that we may be in for one of the better sardine runs in a long while.”

Beaches along the route have removed their shark safety gear in anticipation of the arrival of the sardines and associated predators. This is to prevent any injuries or to impede the movement of the marine species while they move up along the coast.

The Sharks Board added: “We understand the frustration sometimes experienced by some beach users at this time of the year, when conditions are pleasant for bathers but bathing is restricted due to the removal of the shark safety gear; however the Sharks Board appeals to the public to understand and support the reason for these decisions.”

Location of the shoals spotted off the east coast of South Africa.

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