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The Sardine Run in South Africa is famous for underwater dive action and photography of the sardine migration where sharks, dolphins and whales are all predating on the sardines. Andrew has dived the sardine run more than 10 times over the last 10 years with proffesionals such as Doug Perrine, David Doubilet, Barry Skinstad and operators such as Mark Addison of Blue Wilderness, Neville Ayliff,  Greg deValle, Louis from Prodive  and Frog Squad. Every year has been different, sometimes with massive predatory action by sharks and dolphins onto the sardine migration, and sometimes with nothing but cold green water and the odd humpback whale hurrying by. 2009 presented unbelievable sardine run action based out of Port St Johns, South Africa where in 3 days we saw more varied sardine run action than ever before. The sardine run hadn't actually been declared by the KZN sharks board as "officially on" and even though they were flying daily reconaisance the sardines hadn't actually been seen entering into KZN waters. Having said that Barry Skinstad and Roger Horrocks had been getting excellent underwater video footage of sardine bait balls. Frog Squad run by Jimmy and Jason had made plans to follow up their IMAX filming experience as a private sardine run expedition and Andrew joined his long time friend Jimmy for some sardine action. This sardine run was a spectacular occasion. 

Sardine Run baitball with dolphins copyright Andrew Woodburn

Massive sardine baitballs were worked by schools of common dolphin, here with Gannets, sea birds, diving in from above. The sound of these birds hitting the water to get to the sardines is like a gun going off above your head.

shark and diver on sardine run south africa copyright A Woodburn

This large shark had just slashed its way through a sardine baitball taking a few mouthfuls of sardines. It then caried through the sardines and mistakenly rammed straight into the camera's lens much to the surprise of the camera man and luckily added spectacular footage to the sardine run experience. I happened to be below the shark and luckily caught it approaching the camera so as to show its relative size. You can even see the expanded gill slits from the ingested sardine mouthfuls and water intake when mouthing the camera lens, that was now being expelled through the gills.

Diving sea birds eating sardines copyright AWoodburn Common dolphin herding sardine baitball sardine run copyright A Woodburn

Sardine Run surface action copyright A Woodburn

When out at sea on the sardine run we look for massive sea bird congregations over sardine baitballs. There is a shark breaking the surface in the lower bottom right of the above sardine run photo. They lunge through the sardine baitball gulping down mouthfulls of sardines, these sharks often break the surface.

Searching for sardines on sardine run copyright A Woodburn

Filming a baitball on sardine run copyright A Woodburn
Every diver should experience the sardine run at least once in their diving career.



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