Once a year, South Africa is home to a stunning natural event that allows people to see thousands of marine and seabird species up close—pods of dolphins, flocks of gannets, and much more—as they descend upon millions of fish in a performance that only Mother Nature can provide.
It’s known as the KwaZulu-Natal sardine run, or the greatest shoal on Earth. (Read more about it.)
The run typically happens in May through June, when huge schools of sardines, or shoals, head north along South Africa’s KwaZulu-Natal province, located on the country’s eastern seaboard. During the Southern Hemisphere’s winter months, the waters near the coast begin to cool off to temperatures that dip below 22 degrees Celsius, or 71.6 degrees Fahrenheit, expanding the areas of suitable habitats for sardines to swim.
As a result, these cooler waters lure the sardines in to swim close to the shore in large, dark masses. For large predators like sharks and whales that feed on sardines, this large migration is Thanksgiving dinner.
The run is a magnet for a variety of species, says Christina Hagen, a Pamela Isdell Fellow of Penguin Conservation at Birdlife South Africa. Among the animals that come out to prey are albatross, Cape gannets, African penguins, humpback whales, Cape fur seals, dolphins, and sharks.
“It is remarkable because of the sheer numbers of fish and their predators that gather in one place,” she says. “In terms of biomass, it is larger than the wildebeest migrations of East Africa.”
shared via: news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/11/kwazulu-natal-sardine-run-video-sharks-whales-seals-south-africa/
article: Alexandra E. Petri