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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 July, 2004, 16:46 GMT 17:46 UK
In Pictures: The Sardine Run
View of the Wild Coast from a microlight
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The sardine run is one of the biggest marine events on the planet, taking place from May to July when vast shoals of sardines move up the east coast of South Africa.
Pan-spotted tropical dolphins
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The shoals of sardines, measuring as long as 15km, attract a host of voracious predators including thousands of dolphins, sharks, seals, game fish and gannets.
Common dolphins attacking a baitball
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Common dolphins are responsible for shepherding the tiny fish into a swirling cyclone known as a baitball, driving them to the surface as they take their pickings.
Bronze whaler shark moving through sardines
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Once the dolphins have rounded up the sardines, other predators are quick to capitalise. A feeding frenzy ensues as bronze whaler sharks join the fray.
An inquisitive bronze whaler shark
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During the sardine run, the Natal Sharks Board lifts the shark nets designed to protect bathers because of the heavy toll on marine life.
Cape gannets diving for sardines
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Tens of thousands of Cape gannets are thought to time their breeding cycle with the sardine run so that their young are fledged at the time of the event.
Cape gannets hitting the baitball from above
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From heights of almost 30m, the gannets initiate spectacular plunge dives, hitting the water at 90km/h and reaching depths of 10m or more.
Humpback whale breaching
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The presence of humpback whales during the sardine run coincides with their migration from Antarctica to Mozambique where they mate and give birth.



SEE ALSO:
'Greatest shoal on Earth' hits town
13 Jul 04  |  Science/Nature


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