Running With Sardines

Witness one of the most extraordinary feeding events on the planet.

The sardine run occurs each year off the eastern coast of South Africa between May and July. Millions of sardines migrate up the South African coast, attracting hungry predators from far and wide, ready to feast on the miles of sardines. It is a spectacle visible by satellite, but better experienced from beneath the surface. Get a sneak peek of the action with Josh Stewart's film, "Underwater Updates: Running with Sardines."
Watch the Video

Underwater Updates - Sardine Run from Josh Stewart on Vimeo. Video begins with 10 seconds of black screen.

Are You Headed to the Greatest Shoal on Earth?
If you are interested in following in Josh's fin strokes, keep in mind these safety elements:

  • You may want to prep and check your gear ahead of time, so when the moment comes to dive in, you and your equipment are ready to go.

  • With many of the major predators lining up to attend this moving sardine buffet, make sure you are prepared both with training and equipment to handle an injury, should one occur.

  • Familiarize yourself with the emergency action plan.

  • Maintain awareness of the where you are in the water column. With the excitement of the bait ball, the quick movements and the surprise visitors, it is easy to get lost in the mix. Make sure you keep an eye on your computer and gauges so you can dive a safe profile.

  • Stay out of it and keep your distance. Never dive within the bait ball; predators will be going through it at all angles and high speeds, and you don't want to become part of the buffet.

  • Never compromise your safety. When you are able to witness such a unique underwater phenomenon, it can be hard to stay topside, but always take sufficient surface intervals.

  • Visibility can vary widely during this frenetic activity. Because of the number of predators in the water and the potential for a feeding frenzy, you need to be able to see what is going on. Err on the side of caution; if you can't see at least 15 feet, you probably shouldn't be in the water.

  • Make sure your equipment is tucked, clipped and stowed appropriately; dangling hoses could pose a hazard.

  • As you witness this breath-taking experience, don't forget to breathe.

  • Stay close to your buddy and actively communicate throughout the event.
About the Videographer
Josh Stewart was the 2010 North America Our World-Underwater Scholar. The Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society offers the opportunity for divers to immerse themselves in the industry and marine science with experience-based scholarships and internships. Each year, the society awards a scholar from North America, Europe and Australasia to spend the year traveling the world working with renowned experts and engaging in scientific expeditions, underwater research, advanced skills training, field studies, equipment testing and design, among other unique programs. Josh spent the year working with scientists and videographers, filming the underwater world through the conservation lens. He uses his environmental films as a communication tool to show both divers and non-divers alike the beauty and challenges faced by the underwater world.