Sardine Run South Africa
“The Greatest Shoal on Earth” is a catch phrase that promoters of this event have been using. Every year, between May and July, young sardines form into large groups called shoals and start an migration north to warmer waters. KwaZulu-Natal along the east coast is one of the areas that these massive formations of fish tend to head for. They generally stay close to the coast and at time enter shallow bands of water. There they are at the mercy of predators. Dolphins and sharks will search for these shoals forcing them into shallow water and enjoy them as meals. Being forced near the surface also makes they prey to birds.
Marine life and birds are not the only predators, huge fishing fleets will also search for the sardines and eventually pack them into the little cans. The small sardines believe in strength in numbers and it is common to see shoals that are more than a kilometer long and from the surface down to forty meters deep.
Dive operators generally use ultralights to locate the shoals from the air and then direct the boats to the proper location. While the shoals can be see by themselves, the most common tell tail signs of a shoal is a following flock of birds and pods of dolphins. The dolphins, whales and sharks that follow the moving buffet are an added attraction to this natural wonder. It is the winter here so expect brisk water temps of about 59 - 70 F/ 15 - 21 C.
The Great White Shark Diving Capital of the World
Kleinbaai Harbour in the village of Gansbaai a two hour drive from Cape Town South Africa is the starting point for your trip to cage dive with Great White Sharks. Dyer Island is the most frequent destination for the dive operators in search of these 6 meter long up to one ton predators.
Nearby to the island is a small rocky islet called Geyser Rock. This islet is the home to over 40,000 Cape Fur Seals, a delicious meal for the Great White, and the reason they do not migrate. The passage between then has been nicknames sharks alley.
The passage is also the home of many other species including penguins. The Great Whites are lured to the boats with a chum and lured closer with a bait. The Great White is a surface feeder so they will often bring their entire head out of the water to take a look around or to come up under some prey. The boats are designed with a second deck so that you can get great views and photographs shooting down at them.
There are only 8 operators who have permits to offer the cage diving. No special diving qualifications are required and non- divers are able to enter the cage.