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Exploring Africa Since 1688

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Great Migration – But Underwater.

People around the world have heard of the extraordinary annual Great Migration of over two million herbivores in search of grazing in East Africa. Some have heard of the similar smaller migration in Botswana. However there are relatively few people outside of coastal Southern Africa who have heard of the incredible annual marine migration of sardines.

Every year during or around June millions of sardines move northwards up the coast of Southern Africa. This phenomenon may be as important for the coastal ecosystem as the mammal migration across the Serengeti-Mara ecosystem. Just like the mammal migration, the sardines are followed by scores of predators in a feeding maelstrom. Whales, about 23,000 dolphins, 100,000 Cape Gannets, and thousands of sharks and game fish hunt the shoals as they head northwards towards the warmer waters of Mozambique. In this migration humans are also predators in some cases catching shoals with nets right from the shore.

You can witness this incredible marine migration. First you’ll see thousands of Cape Gannets diving in formation from 30m at 90 km/h and reaching 10m depths. They also help identify the locations of the shoals. Sometimes only snorkeling gear is required for a closer look at the action but some real adventure awaits experienced scuba divers.

"...Below the waves, the noise is deafening as the dolphins shoot past at an incredible pace, communicating with their distinctive echo-locating clicks. Within minutes, 20 bronze whaler sharks surround us. These magnificent creatures have us mesmerised until an inquisitive female swings directly towards one of the divers and veers off at the last moment. We ascend to the boat, hearts pounding. We were getting close..."

From BBC News article on "The Greatest Shoal on Earth"

This is real shark diving and an incredible experience. Are you ready for it?

For More see:
(1) National Geographic “South Africa’s Teeming Seas"
(2) Photograph
Peter and Stefania Lamberti of Aquaviaion together with Doug Perrine have captured incredible footage of this event which has been screened on the National Geographic Channel and BBC's award-winning Blue Planet series and in their one-hour documentary "The Greatest Shoal on Earth".

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