Nature most spectacular feeding frenzies

Dolphins, sharks and birds team up for one of nature’s most spectacular annual feeding frenzies…

‘Apparently the wildlife gods were smiling on me because during the limited five days on the water, we had four days of some of the most intense action of the season and possibly even the last few years.’

Likened to east Africa’s buffalo migration, the ‘run’ sees sardines spawn and migrate from the cool waters of the Agulhas Bank, south of South Africa, northward to the warmer waters along the east coast.

Shoals are known to be four miles long and one mile wide, and are clearly visible from the surface of the ocean.

Harried by packs of predators and swept in by the action of the waves, the sardine shoals are penned close to the shore.

Working together, up to 1,000 common dolphins arrive from the open ocean to drive the shoal towards the surface.

Protecting themselves from this onslaught the sardines form into giant balls called ‘bait balls’ which can measure as large as 65ft, or 20m, in diameter.

Thanks to the dolphins, the sardines come within the diving range of the gannets who swoop into the water like white arrows shooting into the sea leaving hundreds of white bubbles behind them.

Next to join the frenzy are the sharks who get very excited when the dolphins are around.

As the frenzy continues walls of bubbles drift upwards which are released by the dolphins working together in teams.

They use the bubbles to coax the sardines into ever tighter groups.

The sardines seldom cross the wall of bubbles and crowd closer together. Known as bubble netting, this enables the dolphins to grab every last sardine.

Just when the feasting appears to be almost over Brydes Whales appears to gather up any remaining sardines.

‘What seems like a frenzy is actually more like organised chaos,’ says Heller.

He says he plans to return to South Africa for the 2011 and 2012 sardine runs.

‘The sardine run requires preparation, patience, focus and endurance. It is unique in every regard,’ says Heller.

‘The sardine run has by far been the most unique experience I have had so far. To swim among more predators on one dive than most scuba divers will witness in their entire lifetime is something that I am truly grateful for.’

shark feeding 5 Nature most spectacular feeding frenzies

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2 Comments »

  1. Tina Says:

    This is amazing!

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  2. mario Says:

    this is amazing!

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