Winter Wildlife Wonders in Durban
March 18, 2014

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Africa is full of wonders. They range from the deserts, forests, and mountains to the wildlife that many people dream about seeing. The Wildebeest Migration in East Africa is a spectacular sight, but there is one that is equally stunning in the ocean further south, and that is the annual “Sardine Run” that takes place during the Southern African winter. Huge shoals of sardines attract predators of every kind, and increasingly they are attracting tourists hoping to see the phenomenon near Durban and its wonderful beaches.

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It isn’t just millions – it is billions of sardines that gather, probably as a result of a drop in sea temperature. The shoal can be so large, perhaps 7 km long, 1.5 km wide, and 30 metres deep. It is certainly easy to see, and tourists now head for places such as Durban in the hope of catching a glimpse. The shoal tends to stay fairly close to the coast, and the beneficiaries are businesses that now have an additional source of income in the low season. The cool waters mean that the shoal is easily seen from boats or, indeed, by those who want to get closer to the action and opt to dive. The return journey in the late winter occurs when the cooler water is at a depth and hence has little impact on tourism numbers. phenergan generic brand phenergan & generic fluticasone/salmeterol order phenergan

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Tourists come to see more than the huge numbers of sardines. They come to see the predators. Dolphins come in their thousands, and it is they that seem to round up the sardines into a huge ball which can then be attacked by several different predators. The dolphins themselves feed at will, but there are also sharks, whales, bluefish, mackerel, and tuna. Cape Fur Seals enjoy themselves as well, and there are plenty of birds that want to get a piece of the action, notably gannets, cormorants, gulls, and terns. The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board monitors the run each year and provides information for those wanting to see the action.

The Spectators

Cheap hotels in Durban are available for those who make a last-minute decision to go down to see what is going on so close to the shoreline. There is no risk involved in staying with a national hotel group such as Tsogo Sun Hotels, where the standards are taken as read across the board.

Traditionally, people head for the beach at the height of the summer. They can expect blue skies and warm seas. The sardines do not like the warm seas, and so their activity, or at least the activity that is there to be seen, is during the winter, when cooler water is inshore and near the surface. The Indian Ocean coastline near Durban is an excellent place to visit at any time of the year. Why not do so during the winter as well as the summer?


Image courtesy of Simon Howden/