2018 TRIP REPORT
2018 Sardine Run in
a Nut Shell: Good bait balls on some days, some
with brydes whales and one with a Cape Fur Seal. Excellent
humpback action including breaching displays and one whale
that played with us in the water for more than one hour!
2018 was a great year for sardines. Some
years the bait balls are mostly composed of red-eye,
mackerel or anchovies. These fish don't behave the same.
They run faster, they do not form such tights schools and
they break up too quickly. Sardines on the other hand, are
well behaved until the very last fish has met its demise.
Consequently, when you have actual sardines, the predators
behave better as well, so when we got on a bait ball, we had
ample opportunity to shoot the action.
Visibility could have been better but we
worked around the cloudy conditions as best we could. It did
mean that we couldn't reef dive but we had enough water
clarity to enjoy good encounters at the surface.
We chummed for sharks on one day and got some
interest from a couple of bronze whaler sharks but for the
most part we concentrated on bait balls.
A few times during the trip we spotted cape
fur seals bobbing at the surface. I have seen penguins this
far north and a few other odd predators but this was a
One seal put on a great show. For around 30
minutes we watched him smashing the ball, deftly plucking a
fish from the school with each pass.
Speaking of strange encounters, we also
stumbled upon a mola mola but even without a tail, it
quickly outpaced me with barely a proof of life picture for
The highlight of the trip for me was the
humpbacks. Some put on aerial displays that allowed us to
get breaching images, others swum past close enough for us
to leap in and take underwater images.
On our last day, we had an amazing encounter
with a humpback that lasted more than an hour. Whereas
humpback encounters on the run usually involve jumping in
in-front of the whales as they pass by, one friendly animal
took a shine to us and swum and rolled around and around
among the delighted divers.
The whale repeatedly spy-hopped in the middle
of the group, then swum slowly, belly-up under us while we
shot image after image. The encounter took place in the
shallows where the visibility was extremely challenging but
the whale came so close that we got an excellent look
anyway. It was a fantastic end to the trip.
As usual we stayed at a lodge called The
Creek where the food is delicious and the staff treat us
like family. Behind the lodge, a resident troop of vervet
monkeys live in the branches of a gigantic bamboo tree.
They're quite shy but with patience you can usually snap a
few images of them.
No water fall visits this year because the
weather was good enough for us to go to sea everyday but we
did make a sunset trip to airstrip where the views of the
Umzimvubu River are spectacular.
Before we knew it, nine days on the water had
come and gone and we were saying our goodbyes. Of course, we
will be back next year to see what the ocean has to offer.
Join us on the
2019 South African Sardine Run
'The greatest shoal on earth!'