Tales from the Bay: Baitfish activity in Algoa Bay

Tales from the Bay by Raggie Charters Marine Eco Cruises

It’s that time of the year again when the baitfish start passing Algoa Bay, Addo’s marine protected area.Baitfish is a term used for any of plankton-eating fish, namely sardines, anchovies, saury, maasbankers and red-eye round herring. They move eastwards from the Agulhas Bank, growing as they move, feeding on phytoplankton and zooplankton. In turn, these plankton have been feeding on the rich nutrients that have been brought to the surface by upwelling and the shearing effect of the Agulhas Current.

These massive schools of fish attract a whole host of apex predators, including African penguins, Cape gannets, Bryde’s whales, game fish and sharks. The main role players in this marine spectacle are in the images attached – the long-beaked common dolphins. If you can spot these torpedo-shaped mammals and keep up with them, they will lead you to the bait balls that make up the world-famous “Sardine Run”.

Raggie Charters assisted a BBC crew while filming the documentary, Perfect Planet – which is currently being screened globally -and will be assisting another film crew in April 2021. From now (March) until July, look out for the water being churned up by dolphins, and gannets raining down from the heavens, and you could be witnessing what is known as the “Greatest Shoal on Earth” – the Sardine Run.

Book a marine safari with Raggie Charters.

Algoa Bay marine protected area, including the St Croix and Bird island groups, is incorporated into the Addo Elephant National Park. The bay is a magnificent stretch of South African coastline where the warm Indian Ocean invites marine mammals, fish and birds to make their home.