Are you ready to discover, dive and experience South Africa’s Sardine Run – the worlds greatest marine event? If the answer is yes, then you have to join Blue Wilderness on our next Sardine Run expedition. Here you will open yourself to one of the worlds most challenging but rewarding SCUBA diving expeditions!
South Africa’s Sardine Run
The Sardine Run in South Africa is recognized as one of the world’s most spectacular marine events. Annually, from May to July, vast shoals of sardines migrate from their temperate-water home off South Africa’s southern coast and travel north-east into the sub-tropical coastal waters of the Wild Coast. Following the shoals is an unparalleled concentration of marine predators including seabirds; sharks; game fish and marine mammals.
When predators meet prey, a feeding event of unmatched proportions begins. Thousands of common dolphins charge after the shoals, separating them into densely packed bait balls and driving them to the surface. Watched by the omnipresent Cape gannets, an aerial assault on the sardines occurs when tens of thousands of gannets begin their spectacular plunge diving displays. Below the birds, the bait balls are easy pickings not only for dolphins, but also for shivers of bronze-whaler, dusky and blacktip sharks. The final player, is the behemoth Bryde’s whale. Its huge mouth can decimate an entire bait ball in a single lunge.
In the late 90′s, Blue Wilderness pioneered diving expeditions to follow and film the Sardine Run. We were instrumental in epic productions such as the Emmy Award winning BBC film “The greatest shoal on Earth”. Today our team continues to annually track the Sardine Run. We are always developing new detection technologies; perfecting our observer network and retro-fitting our vessels to ensure we can again experience the world’s greatest marine event.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||East London – Wildcoast, South Africa|
|LEVEL – QUALIFICATIONS||Advanced – Require Open Water SCUBA|
|WEAR||Jacket, hat sunglasses in addition to SCUBA gear|
- Personal – We love our guests, from the diving, relaxing, to telling stories around the evening fire, you will find our team friendly, personal and always at hand to make your trip as special as possible!
- Safety – Blue Wilderness recognizes that sharks are wild animals and need to be respected by both us and our clients. To ensure safety and respect for the ocean, we operate under a strict ‘no touch’ and ‘no harassment’ policy (including our guides!). This makes our trips very safe and at all times respectful to the animals that we are privileged to view and interacting with.
- Pioneers – In the late 90’s Blue Wilderness pioneered the Sardine Run expedition. Though our work in hosting and facilitating the marine logistics for the renowned BBC documentary ‘the Greatest Shoal on Earth’ we were at the forefront of establishing the Sardine Run as a expedition for adventurers, like you, from around the world!
- Expertise – The Blue Wilderness team is made up of many of the countries top shark experts and scientists. Owners, Ryan Johnson and Enrico Gennari have published extensive research on sharks (see here), advised government, and developed responsible management plan for sharks in South Africa. Our primary skipper, Marcus, has been leading expeditions to the sardine run for over 15 years. Now this is true expertise!
- The Professionals use us – Blue Wilderness is the goto shark logistics company for many of the worlds top film crews and photographers wanting to capture images and video of the Sardine Run, we’ve hosted BBC, National Geographic, Discovery Channel and helped produce many of the iconic shark documentaries all over Southern Africa –check them out here. There is a reason why the professionals use us – because we are the best at finding and safely allowing clients to interact with sharks
- Research & Education – We believe that eco-tourism needs to give back to the environment. We do so by collecting vital citizen science daily that feeds back to the scientists of Oceans Research. We also aim that every guests is empowered to become an ambassador for shark conservation through the information we offer during the course of each expedition.
- Location – Unlike most operations, we launch from East London. The reason is simple, in addition to our 15 years of expeditions to the Sardine Run, we read the research (see www.thesardinerun.info), we know where the visibility is best, we know where the sardines and other bait fish concentrate most regularly, and we read the current conditions that facilitate the sardine run. All this tells us that for week in week out reliability, East London is the best place to launch. It also helps that we are one of the few boats launching form East London – no wait in line to get onto a baitball!
Scottburgh – South Coast Durban
What are the 2017 expedition dates?
Blue Wilderness’s schedule for the Sardine Run 2017 is featured below. If none of these dates suit your expedition, please send us and email to discuss alternative possibilities
- Sardine Run 1: 14 May – 21 May 2017 (Fully Booked)
- Sardine Run 2: 21 May – 28 May 2017
- Sardine Run 3: 28 May – 4 June 2017 (Fully Booked)
- Sardine Run 4: 4 June – 11 June 2017
- Sardine Run 5: 11 June – 18 June 2017
- Sardine Run 6: 18 June – 25 June 2017
- Sardine Run 7: 25 June – 2 July 2017
- Sardine Run 8: 2 July – 9 July 2017 (Fully booked)
- Sardine Run 9: 9 July – 16 July 2017
Where can I learn more about South Africa’s Sardine Run?
We have built a great online resource of all the latest research and information about South Africa’s annual Sardine Run. You can view all this information and materials at: www.thesardinerun.info
Can I come for a shorter time on the Sardine Run?
From our extensive experience running sardine run expeditions, we know that this duration of expedition will maximize the probability of success. Coming for a shorter period exponentially increases the probability that you will not experience the incredible sights that the sardine run has to offer, due to the difficulty of locating great bait balls and the possibility of bad weather spells. Thus to ensure that we feel morally comfortable that we can deliver the promised service, we do insist that guests join us for an entire expedition.
Are bait balls guaranteed on the Sardine Run?
It is vital that all adventurers considering joining us on the sardine run understand the realities of this expedition. Blue Wilderness cannot and will not offer any guarantee of sightings. We are meeting nature entirely on its own terms, we are not chumming, interfering or manufacturing the sardine run, but watching, waiting and hoping to witness this spectacular event! Our past record (over 15 years) suggests that 60% of divers will experience a bait ball (sardines, anchovy or red eye) with predators. 100% of expeditions have resulted in sightings of dolphins, gannets, whales and sharks.
Do I need to be SCUBA qualified?
We highly recommend that sardine run adventurers are SCUBA qualified. However, we do welcome guests who are not qualified or prefer to free dive. For free-divers, we do insist that you do not move onto a bait ball as this does interfere negatively with aerial predators such as the Cape gannet.
How ‘tough’ is it really?
The Sardine Run is tough, and anybody joining us on an expedition should have a relatively good level of fitness and be used to spending time on the ocean. Spending 8 hours a day on a small boat is challenging for even experienced ‘seadogs’
Where will we stay on the trip?
Blue Wilderness has made a great partnership with Santa Paloma Eco-lodge (www.santa-paloma.co.za). The lodge operates with many of the ecologically sustainable environmental ideals that Blue Wilderness holds close to its heart!
What airport must I fly into?
Blue Wilderness will pick you up and drop you off at East London airport.
Is there group discounts?
Sure why not! Send our super-duper sales exec – Jackie, an email and negotiate a great rate for your group! firstname.lastname@example.org
What if I get seasick?
On the sardine run we are out in the ocean wild! Whilst near to shore, the only launch site that can be easily utilised is our initial harbor entrance at Buffalo river. Often we are a two hour boat ride away from this harbor, thus cannot return back to land for sea sickness. If you are prone to sea sickness, it is best to take as many precautions as possible to control it prior to launching.
What happens if there is bad weather?
Bad weather is an unfortunate reality on the Sardine Run. The wild coast of South Africa got its name for being, well, a little wild (weather wise)! Thus it is likely that we will lose a day or two on each expedition to bad weather. We keep a ‘floating’ reserve day for any bad weather days, and spend such as day enjoying the terrestrial wildlife of South Africa at Inkwenkwzi game reserve. If there are more than one bad weather days, then it is up to you to decide what alternative activities you would like to do. Maybe more game viewing, a trip to the mall? Maybe relaxing around the Ecolodge. Unfortunately, Blue Wilderness is not able to offer refunds on additional bad weather days for this expedition.
How does the catering work?
Nothing beats great grub before , during and after a hard day on the sardine run! Our wonderful Ecolodge ‘Santa Paloma’ caters for all our eating requirements, and ensures we are well fed and happy at all times. The food is homemade, and most of it is grown and produced through the extensive permaculture farm that is part of the lodge. Meals are a fun social event around a communal table and open fire. On the water, a assortment of high energy snacks and drinks will keep our energy up throughout the day!
Can I get special food?
If sardine run guests do have special eating or dietary requirements, simply let us no in advance, and we will arrange suitable catering for you!
Can I bring my massive DSLR camera?
Yes of course! The sardine run does involve a lot of jumping in and out of our boats, and for this a smaller camera like a ‘gopro’ is ideal! But when that big stable bait ball arrives, then nothing quite gets the incredible photos like a good underwater DSLR camera!
How do I book my spot!
To confirm your place on the sardine run, we ask a 25% deposit at the time of booking, and then the balance paid a month before joining us.