WATCH | SA freediver swims with sardines, sharks on KZN south coast
South African record-holding freediver Beth Neale took a dive off the KwaZulu-Natal south coast on Monday to swim among the sardines — and sharks.
In a breathtaking video, Neale is seen diving into a shoal of millions of the tiny silver fish.
“It’s intimidating free-diving down into the shoal. Once you penetrate through the top layer, they reform above and block out the sun so everything goes dark. Then there’s also hundreds of sharks swimming through the shoal and feeding, so they will nearly bump into you as they fly though. Luckily, they only have one thing on their mind — sardine snacks.
“The sardines are an important part of the ocean food chain, and the human one. While I was marvelling at the indescribable abundance of sardines underwater, thousands of South Africans were gathered on the beaches filling their shirts, bags, pockets and hands with sardines overfilling the nets,” Neale said.
Every winter‚ most often in June or July‚ millions of sardines leave the cold waters off Cape Point and make their way up the coast to KwaZulu-Natal.
Each year‚ holidaymakers flock to the province to catch a glimpse of the spectacle — called the Greatest Shoal on Earth — that includes sharks‚ dolphins and birds in a feeding frenzy as they prey on the sardines.