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 "...this was a unique and wonderful trip." - Peter Verhoog & Georgina Wiersma, CEO's of Save Our Seas Foundation


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Sardine Run Ocean Safari

The Sardine Run, off South Africa’s rugged Wild Coast, has been called one of the ocean’s most dramatic events. Each year from May to July, scores of sardines (Sardinops sagax) move away from their feeding grounds off the Eastern Agulhas banks and begin a dangerous spawning migration that leads them to the Kwa-Zulu Natal coastline. The fish use a cold finger of water that moves up the coast to facilitate their movement. They can travel up to 60 km a day and are highly affected by the oceanic conditions.

Some of the ocean’s top predators follow these rich, oily fish – and their presence makes for awe-inspiring underwater encounters. Long-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus capensis) travel in groups numbering up to 5000 individuals and ten’s of thousands of Cape Gannets rain down from the skies above. Copper (Carcharhinus brachyurus) and Dusky sharks (Carcharhinus obscurus) are found closer inshore, hungrily searching for those shimmering shoals …

This expedition happens at the same time as the annual Humpback whale migration, where about 15000 whales move up the coast. You will be at sea during the hight of this event. You are guaranteed to see more whales that you ever thought possible. They breach, fluke slap, tail lob and swim in pods of 2- 15 animals strong. The ocean is alive in a way you never imagined with whales, all while we are searching for the elusive sardines !

We have designed these trips to coincide with with the period that the shoals of fish have traditionally passed specific points on the coast line (Port St Johns). Our goal is to find baitballs and diver whilst the predators are feeding on Sardines, but this does not happen every day. In our search we will encounter and dive with dolphins, Humpback whales and sharks. This makes it the ultimate Ocean Safari. The Run is unpredictable, weather is unpredictable – but the reward is awesome and worth chasing.

Why is it called an Ocean Safari ?

The Sardine Run is not predictable and no one knows exactly when or even if it will occur each year. We know from past records that June and July are the best months to search the upper Eastern Cape coastline. This expedition is similar to a safari in that we don’t know what wildlife encounters we will experience. On the Sardine Run we spend 95% of our time in the water snorkeling with Common dolphins, Whales and sharks, only SCUBA diving when we find a static bait ball.

Contact us to book your trip for 2015

23rd June – 30th June, East London – $1800 p/p

3rd July  - 10th July, Port St Johns – $1800 p/p

15th July -22nd July, Port St Johns – $1800 p/p


  • Six boating days, weather permitting, with packed lunches.
  • Seven night’s accommodation,  including breakfast.
  • Sardine Run dive guide.
  • Air fills, cylinder and weight belt.
  • Transfers to and from Port St Johns

Additional Expenses:

  • Flights
  • Dive gear hire
  • Dinners

Getting there :

Non-direct international flight into Umthatha airport or international flights in KingShaka International airport.


We will be staying at the 3 star Outspan Inn, right on the waters edge. Here you can rise, have breakfast and simply walk to the boat waiting for you on the water. It’s been our home for the Run during past 6 years and we look forward to going back. (Website)

Diving and water conditions:

Dive type: We spend 95% of our time snorkeling. ONly SCUBA diving when we encounter a static bait ball.

Snorkeler experience: Competent free divers are welcome, but a high level of physical fitness and swimming competence is expected.

Dive rules: No bright equipment colours (especially yellow and silver). No touching of animals. Follow skipper’s instructions at all times.

Depth: Surface to 20 m. Type: snorkeling, SCUBA and boat-viewing.

Visibility: 0 – 20 m (minimum 5 m visibility for bait-ball dives).

Water temperature: 17° – 22°C.

Booking Conditions:

  • A 50% deposit is payable to Animal Ocean upon booking. This deposit is payable per person and is non-refundable as well as non-transferable. The outstanding balance is to be settled 30 days prior to the start of your trip.
  • Any additional expenses are to be settled prior to the guest’s departure.
  • No credits will be given for cancellations beyond our control.


Sardine Run 2014 from Animal Ocean on Vimeo.

Sardine Run with Animal Ocean from Animal Ocean on Vimeo.