As South Africa enters into a new lockdown, travel and activities are on hold. If you live on Durban’s North or South coast, the sardine run is on your doorstep. For fishers and ocean predators, the sardine run is a feast. The sardine run attracts many large game fish to the shore, making it an excellent opportunity to catch a big fish from the beach. The sardine run is exciting, with many dolphins and sharks also viewable from the beach. Keep a lookout to spot whales also closing in on the shoals of sardines.
If you want to make the most of Durban winter, venture out to catch a fish or buy a fresh fish for a barbecue. There are few things more delicious than cooking fresh fish on the braai.
The Sardine Run
About the Sardine Run
The Greatest Shoal on Earth attracts thousands of visitors to the KwaZulu Natal east coast to witness the annual migration of millions of sardines. Many dolphins, sharks, whales and seabirds follow the sardines as they move along the coast.
It is a magnificent spectacle for locals and visitors viewing thousands of silverfish in the surf. The Sardine Run is an annual sardine migration along South Africa’s east coast between May and July. The sardines migrate from the cold waters of the Cape to seek the warmer waters on the east coast. Sardines are cold-water fish enjoying cold, nutrient-rich waters along the Western Cape, but all changes in the South African winter months.
The currents moving east in South African winter produce many plankton, sardines’ primary food source.
The sardines mate and spawn on the Agulhas banks off the southern Cape coast, and their eggs are left to float, fertilized, on the open sea. Once they are strong enough to swim against the current, they collect in huge shoals and make their way slowly back to their spawning grounds.
There is a small group that annually makes it is way east up the Wild Coast. They take advantage of water currents on the east coast. This cool water is seasonal, forming a thin current between the beach and the warm Agulhas Current. The sardines follow the current Northeast. In 2013 and 2014, the sardines did not run up the coast to enter KwaZulu-Natal’s waters due to the currents not forming. The water temperature has to drop below 21 °C for the migration to take place. In 2003, the sardines failed to ‘run’ for the third time in 23 years.
The shoals are often more than 7 km long, 1.5 km wide, and 30 metres deep. The shoals of sardines are visible from spotter planes and the beach.
The sardines swim in large groups and travel in numerous shoals to minimize their risk of being eaten. The sardines swim close to the ocean surface and the shoreline. Groups of predators like birds, larger fish, sharks, whales, and dolphins join the feeding frenzy. When the dolphins appear along the KwaZulu-Natal south coast, it indicates that the sardine run is active. The shark board is busy during the sardine run to lift the shark nets and avoid severe damage caused by the sheer number of sharks and dolphins. If the sardine run is on, it is best not to enter the ocean water for recreational activities.
What Fish and ocean life eat Sardines?
Whales and Dolphins
Sardines form part of dolphins and whales regular meals. The humpback and the minke, feeding whales, open their mouths wide and scoop up vast quantities of sardines. Many dolphins like the black dolphin and the hunt sardines.
Seals and Sea Lions
Seals and sea lions feed on sardines in shallow waters. Seals and sea lions also eat octopus, squid, eels and other fish.
Sardines swim in huge schools and use their synchronized swimming displays to confuse their predators. The sardines attract large fish like mackerel, tarpon, sharks and many more.
Sea Birds and Penguins
Sardines often swim at or near the surface, trying to escape underwater predators. Sea birds then dive down to the water surface to grab a sardine. Penguins also catch sardines in the shallow waters.
Are Sardines Good for You?
Sardines have been around for centuries, named after Sardinia, an island of Italy. You use to be able to find an abundance of sardines in Sardinia. You buy Sardines canned most of the time, but fresh sardines are delicious, and you need to eat them quick. The small fish feed on plankton only, which means they contain a lot of nutrition and don’t contain high levels of mercury.
Nutritional benefits of eating sardines
The small silverfish contain many nutrients with a lot of health benefits. Some of these nutrients help prevent heart disease and can protect you against certain cancers. The fish contain calcium and other vital nutrients.
Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids help prevent heart disease due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Sardines contain a lot of omega-3 fatty acids. Omega-3 fatty acids reduce the risk of blood clots and lower blood pressure.
Sardines are an excellent source of vitamin B-12. The vitamin helps your cardiovascular system and gives you energy. Sardines also contain a healthy amount of vitamin D.
Sardines are an excellent source of calcium. The fish is a perfect dietary choice for lactose-intolerant people. If you are allergic to dairy or need more calcium in your diet, sardines are healthy fish to eat.
Along with calcium and lots of vitamins, sardines contain several beneficial minerals. These include:
Sardines contain protein, which is essential for healthy bones and muscles. Protein also helps create antibodies that keep your immune system strong.
How to eat sardines
Sardines are a very versatile food. You can enjoy sardines in many delicious dishes. If you cook with canned sardines, rinse them before you cook. Fresh sardines should be gutted and rinsed before cooking.
Sardines work very well in many light dishes. You can add sardines to a greek salad for a light meal filled with protein. Use sardines in a spaghetti sauce, Mediterranean dishes and fish curries. The best way to enjoy fresh sardines is grilled or cooked on an open fire. Barbecued fresh fish is a delicacy and pairs with many wines for a fresh fish lunch or summer dinner.
Need to Know Facts about the Sardine run
Where is the Sardine Run?
Sardine Run, South Coast, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa
When is the Sardine Run?
Sardine Run takes place along the northern Eastern Cape and southern KwaZulu-Natal coastline between May and July. Stay connected to follow the sardine run updates.
The North Star Micro Hotel Lockdown 2021 Take-Away Menu
Currently, during the level four lockdown, the North Star Micro Hotel is open for take-aways.
Mondays: Pan seared hake and chips R120
Tuesdays: Roast Tomato and Lentil with croutons soup R90
Wednesdays: Lasagne with a salad R140
Thursdays: Fillet steak with Mediterranean veggies R230
Fridays: Burger night. Chicken or beef with chips R130
Contact the North Star Micro Hotel to place your order and collect.
Please stay safe and healthy. We are excited to welcome you back for breakfast, lazy lunch on the balcony, drinks at the Belvedere and dinner at the North Star Micro Hotel.
t: 076 611 4592
26 Eastmoor Crescent, Umhlanga Rocks, Umhlanga, 4320