No sardines but whales and dolphins everywhere!

Anne, Erol, Elke and I have just got back from a fabulous week down in Port St Johns trying to catch some action from the annual Sardine Run, with Pro Dive, a great diving company based in Port Elizabeth. Unfortunately the conditions were too nice for the sardines to be tempted to the surface – perfect conditions are cold water (18C and below) and choppy conditions, whereas we had warm (19C – 23C) and flat seas – but it did mean that we had perfect conditions to see whales and dolphins, and they didn’t disappoint! A typical day out to sea starts of with putting on a cold and damp wetsuit in preparation for the 07:30 launch (Top tip – Baby Bum Cream is a great way to avoid the dreaded wetsuit rash – apply liberally to any high risk areas). A beautiful ride along the river ends with a quick (and occasionally exhilarating) launch through the surf, and then a quick scan for any nearby action and a decision as to whether to head north or south along the coast. The rest of the day consists of alternating between relaxed cruising or floating on the sea and admiring the stunning scenery, and frantically either getting your snorkeling gear on, swimming towards any action or scrambling back into the boat as quickly as possible.  We would normally head back to the lodge between 14:30 and 15:30, depending on what was happening. The highlights for me were definitely the humpback whales. I finally got to snorkel with them, albeit only for a couple of seconds at a time as they shot past underneath you – there is a lot of luck involved to be in the right place at the right time. On one morning I managed to see 7 whales in 2 snorkels in the space of about 30 minutes. Anne, Elke and Erol had an amazing encounter where a whale came right up to them and tapped Erol on the head with its tail fin (see the linked video below). We also saw some really amazing breaches right near our boat and the guys with fancy cameras on the boat managed to get some incredible photos. I’ve included a few taken by Jean-Michel Ribeyre, one of our boat mates (thanks Jean-Michel!) as well as some videos I took. The dophins were also great, although not always as friendly as the ones we encounter on our scuba trips in northern Kwa-Zulu Natal. The bottlenose dolphins normally had a quick look at you and a quick swim around before heading off, but the huge pods of common dolphins (+- 300) typically just sped past to continue their search for sardines. We were also lucky enough to see a few dusky & bronze whaler sharks while snorkeling. Anne had a particularly exciting experience when she put her head down to see a curious 1m dusky heading straight for her fin! A couple of flicks of her fins sent it packing but it taught us all to keep our heads down in the water! We had a total of 8 guests on our boat, plus our trusty skipper Jaco, our dive master Monica, and the the owner of Pro Dive, Louis. The other guest were Liz (Australian), Will (photo mad English man – see his website for some of his amazing photos from last year), Jean-Michel (France) and Karoline (from Norway, who learnt to dive for the Sardine Run after deciding to a shark safari in South Africa as it was listed as the most dangerous thing in the world to do). A great crew and awesome fellow divers. Jaco and Monica also run seal snorkeling trips out of Plettenberg Bay – now added to our list of things to do! A quick thanks to the guys providing the accommodation – Port St Johns River Lodge, and some of the restaurants we had dinner at (most notably the Delicious Monster at Second Beach) Here are a few photos from the trip: Sardine Run - Anne happy after another great day out Sardine Run - Chilly start to the day Sardine Run - entrance to the river Sardine Run - Erol scanning the horizon Sardine Run - flat seas Sardine Run - having a quick rest Sardine Run - heading home after a great first day

Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre
Courtesy of Jean-Michel Ribeyre

Sardine Run - Keeping an eye on things Sardine Run - Skua stalking our boat Sardine Run - stunning cliffs along the river Sardine Run - stunning Wild Coast scenery Sardine Run - The whales are somewhere down there Sardine Run - upclose and personal with a whale Sardine Run - waiting for the action Sardine Run - waiting for the boat

Here are some links to videos from our trip (including Anne & Erol’s not-to-be-missed encounter with a whale)

 

Other links: Pro Dive: http://www.prodive.co.za/

Will Clark’s Photos: http://www.willclarkphotos.com/

Seal snorkelling: http://offshoreadventures.co.za/

Advertisements

One thought on “No sardines but whales and dolphins everywhere!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s