Sardine Run 2018




“The Ultimate Marine Migration”

If you’re looking to experience the ultimate marine migration, you have got to join us and get in on the action for the Sardine Run 2018! Travelling down to Port St. John’s in the Transkei, ScubaCo Diving & Travel wouldn’t miss this yearly phenomenon for the world; and you shouldn’t either!

Over the years, the Sardine Run has proved tons of fun for everyone; and by everyone, we mean not only the sardines, but the numerous shark species, Humpback whales, and dolphin superpods that come along for the ride.

With the involvement of the hyperactive Cape Gannets sure to keep things interesting, see more than you bargained for at the Sardine Run 2018!



Sardine Run Fact File

Occurring off the coast of Southern Africa every May through July, the Sardine Run sees billions of Southern African pilchard, Sardinops sagax, spawn in the cool waters of the Agulhas Bank before moving northwards along the east coast of South Africa.

The sheer number of sardines that spawn and migrate call a variety of apex predators to the area every year in a feeding frenzy that is both grisly and gorgeous; a once in a lifetime visual spectacular.

The run occurs as a result of, and when, a current of cold water heads north from the Agulhas Bank up to Mozambique, before branching out, off into open Indian Ocean.

Fun Fact: In terms of sheer biomass, researchers estimate that the Sardine Run could rival the great wildebeest migrations that occur in East Africa! Think about how many sardines it would take to weigh as much as just one wildebeest!

Less fun, more fact: The causes and potential hampering factors of the Sardine Run are not well understood even today. It is believed that if the water temperature doesn’t drop low enough, the Sardines will not run. In 2003, the Sardines failed to run for the third time in 23years. And, while 2005 saw a great run, 2006 marked a 4th non-run. With global warming impacting the temperatures of our oceans the world over, the days of the Sardine Run may well be running out…

The Sardine Run is truly an absolute wonder to behold – whether you are diving, snorkelling, staying on the boat, or observing the migration from the air, this is a photo opportunity unlike any other. With the shoal often stretching across about 10kms, it is also usually over a kilometer wide and 30m deep!



Who to expect at the Sardine Run: Predator Profiles

Dolphins, usually the common dolphin, Delphinus capensis, come out in droves to show off their hunting prowess and fancy fin work!

Experts have estimated that these super pods that come to feed on the migrating sardines have often reached almost 20 000 in number! When these dolphins round the unsuspecting sardines into bait balls, you’ll want to have your camera ready! These bait balls can be massive, up to 20m in diameter, and can extend to a depth of 10m!

You’ll want to have your finger on the trigger though, so to speak, as these bait balls aren’t sustainable or long lasting, and one will have formed and deteriorated into chaos again in minutes!

Sharks are also a feature at the Sardine Run, and they’re not likely to let the dolphins have all the fun. Sharks are also likely to take the opportunity to pick off a couple hundred or thousand sardines when the dolphins do the dirty work of rounding them up into bait balls.

The Copper Shark is one of the species most closely linked to the Sardine Run, and they’re not above stealing a meal right out of the dolphins’ mouths!

We must not, however, forget those who strike from above! A variety of bird life flocks to the sardine every year, hoping to pick off as much as, if not more than, they can chew! From the hyperactive Cape Gannet to some smaller chance-takers, our feathered friends won’t miss the Sardine Run 2018, why should you?

Finally, some of our water’s most beautiful and majestic whale species can be found in the vicinity of the run every year, despite the fact that many of them don’t actually join in on the run; at least not in the same way that our apex predators do. Keep a keen eye out for Humpback, Southern Right, and Minke whales!



Predators as Predictors

Researchers believe that they can predict, with limited accuracy, however, whether or not the sardines will run in any given year based on the presence of predators in the area leading up to winter months.

Predators that predictors keep an eye out for include sharks and large game fish, common dolphins, particularly when they can be observed inshore along the east coast, and finally, the presence of the Cape Gannet is most closely associated with sardine presence along the Eastern Cape and KZN coastline.

Fun Fact: While the common dolphin is highly involved in, and a marker of the coming of the Sardine Run, the resident bottlenose dolphin does not appear to associate with the Sardine Run in any way. The bottlenose dolphin is thus, unfortunately, not useful in helping researchers predict sardine presence or the likelihood of an annual run taking or failing to take.



Sardine Run Packages For 2018


8 Nights / 7 Days / 6 Sardine Run Water Days / 1 Aliwal Shoal Day

– R37 500p.p. sharing
– R41 250 single person

7 Nights / 6 Days / 5 Sardine Run Water Days / 1 Aliwal Shoal Day

– R29 700p.p. sharing
– R33 250 single person


Please Contact Us for Tailor Made Pricing Should You Need Special Requirements

Scuba & Snorkel Options Available

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Sardine Run Bookings



Sardine Run Itinerary For 2018

(This itinerary is only an example and will be adjusted depending on what package you choose)


Day 1


Arrival into King Shaka International Airport and Transfer to Umkomaas.

Your first day on the Sardine Run package trip can be spent diving Aliwal Shoal and exploring the reef, after which ScubaCo will treat you to a baited shark dive! On the reef dive you can look forward to spotting whales, dolphins, Manta Rays, you name it!

We always make sure to choose the best spot on the day, and may even be able to schedule a wreck dive, conditions permitting. Then, in terms of the shark specific dive, Aliwal Shoal is home to the migratory Ragged Tooth Sharks, as well as Blacktip Sharks, Dusky Sharks, and the elusive Tiger Shark!

Here at ScubaCo we use only eco-friendly and approved baiting methods – we will lay a “scent slick” of fish oils and chum in the water to attract sharks to the area, after which we lower the bait drums into the water, drawing the sharks to you and the drums for the duration of your shark interaction.

After an exhilarating day watching sharks, you’ll be settled into Shark & Shoal Guesthouse in Umkomaas.  

More details:
All rooms are en-suite with modern bathroom facilities. Rooms either have queen size or twin beds to suit your requirements.





Day 2


Transfer to Port St John’s.

The transfer to Port St John’s is usually about a 4 and a half hour drive from Umkomaas, and our team will meet you there and give you a full briefing on how things will run for the duration of your Sardine Run experience stay with us.

You will be booked into a gorgeous and rustic little guesthouse on the banks of the mighty Umzimvubu River, where you can rest up, relax, and replenish your reserves for the next 6 sea days which will be spent amidst the excitement of the Sardine Run!

Bring your camera along for some awesome photo opportunities of sharks, Humpback Whales, dolphins, and the sardines of course!




Day 3 – Day 8


Full Water Days Sardine Rune 2018.

You will have an experienced dive guide with you for your safety, and will spend days 3 – 8 experiencing the majesty of the Sardine Run. Your cylinder and weights will be provided.

Because we received detailed updates on marine life movement every morning, we are able to take you to wherever the action is happening on any given day!

Conditions permitting, you will spend days 3 – 8 constantly in and out of the water, snorkelling, diving, and generally experiencing the wonder that is the Sardine Run – you’ll have to be quite fit to keep up though! Those fish move fast!

After each sea day you will have the opportunity to relax at the lodge, or enjoy a local excursion if you’re up for it. Overnight at the lodge and be ready and fresh for the following day’s action.




Day 9


Transfer to King Shaka International airport for flights after 4pm.

After an early start you will be on the road back to Durban’s King Shaka International airport. Please ensure your flights home depart later than 4pm.


scubaco diving & travel -sardine run 2018



What’s Included:

  • Return Transfers (King Shaka Airport / Aliwal Shoal / Port St. John’s / back to King Shaka Airport)
  • 1 Night Accommodation in Umkomaas incl. breakfast
  • 1 Reef Dive at Aliwal Shoal
  • 1 Baited Shark Dive at Aliwal Shoal
  • 7 Nights Accommodation in Port St. John’s incl. Breakfast
  • 6 Days Sardine Run Diving
  • Cylinder Rental & Air-Fill
  • Weight Belts & Weights

What’s Not Included?

  • 1 Month Marine Park Dive Permit
  • Flights & Taxes
  • Passports & Visas
  • Personal Insurance
  • Dive Gear (Can be hired)
  • Lunches, Dinners & Beverages
  • Gratuities
  • All additional activities & items of a personal nature



Please Note: The minimum requirement for Sardine Run 2018 is Open Water Diver (or equivalent) with at least 150+ Dives, unless the “snorkeling only” option is chosen. *Please Note that a reasonable level of fitness is required in order to fully enjoy the Sardine Run experience.

What are you waiting for? The Sardine Run 2018 is a life-altering experience you don’t want to miss out on! For more information, or to learn more about Aliwal Shoal dives, shark interactions, and shark diving, why not browse our website.


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