A Different Type of Migration: Shoal-stopper


Sardines are an integral part of the ocean food chain, with their sheer quantity sustaining many other fish species.

From small sardines to whopper whales, all kinds of marine life migrate. Humpback whales break the record for the longest mammal migration, covering 8,300 km (5,160 miles) from Pacific waters off Costa Rica all the way to Antarctica.

Marine Migration

Millions of sardines cause an amazing annual spectacle by swimming in one supersized shoal along South Africa’s eastern coastline, to the delight of hungry ocean predators. The “Sardine Run” is plagued with danger, and the reason for this mega migration is unknown.

As the tiny fish make their journey, predators gather for a feeding frenzy. Dolphins round up the sardines into baitballs, while birds descend from the skies and sharks converge in the water. The risky migration’s motive is unclear, but it may be that the southern waters become too cold for the sardines.

Fast Facts

The migrating sardines travel north along the east coast of South Africa, from their spawning ground of Agulhas Bank to the subtropical waters off the coast of Durban. The huge shoals can be 15 km (9.3 miles) long.