Sardine Run: An enormous Bait Ball with Thousands of Gannets, Dolphins and more …


Wim reports:

This morning we were out on the ocean again shortly after sunrise, and before long we encountered a massive pod of Common Dolphin.

This was very exciting for us. The Common Dolphins are usually an indication that sardines are in the vicinity. They follow the sardines, then isolate and herd thousands of the fish, forming a bait ball which they then feed on.
When we caught up with the pod, we could see dolphins for hundreds of meters in all directions. This gave us a fabulous opportunity to take photographs of them jumping, breaching, splashing, and enjoying themselves. They were moving too rapidly for us to dive for underwater shots.
We followed them until they swam away quite suddenly, leaving us with excellent photographs of the encounter.
We were not alone for long as we found a large pod of Bottlenose Dolphins fairly close to the shore. This time we took topside photographs again and were able to dive for close underwater shots of the agile creatures swimming not too far away, and approaching us to within about 5 meters.
We were lucky enough to repeat activity this with four Humpback Whales. We were again able to capture images above and below the water as they allowed us approach quite close.
Then we looked up and saw a cloud …
… except it was not a cloud!
Twenty to thirty thousands Gannets were swirling around close to horizon. This could only mean one thing … The Sardine Run!
We rushed to the scene and spent the remainder of the day in the centre of the most awesome spectacle.
Gannets seemed to rain from the sky as they plunged in their thousands into the water to grab fish. The sound of these birds hitting the water all around was incredible. Thud! Thud! Thud! as their sleek bodies entered the sea.
They dived so close to our boat that we were splashed time and again.
The sea seemed to be boiling … not only were the Gannets diving everywhere all around us, but the massive school of Common Dolphins were in attendance in every direction, hunting, and enjoying the feast. Everything seemed to be in excess numbers – thousands of fish in the gigantic bait ball, thousands of dolphins, thousands of Gannets hailing down – all in non- stop noisy motion.
Of course different sharks appeared and we managed to get good photographs of a Hammerhead, a