PICS & SA ‘Mermaid’ freediving champ swims with the sardines

Durban – As the cooler temperatures make their way to the KwaZulu-Natal coast each winter, fishermen, anglers and residents alike all look forward to the arrival of the sardines. 

And this year, the sardines were out in full force, with thousands of crates netted along most parts of the KZN coast. 

Dubbed the ‘Greatest Shoal on Earth’, the annual sardine run not only brings millions of silvery fish right to the shores of coastal towns and cities, it also brings a variety of marine life including sharks and different types of dolphins. 

This year, four-time South African Freediving Champion, African Continental Record Holder for no-fins freediving, renowned ocean conservationist and filmmaker, Beth Neale, headed to the KZN South Coast where she took to the water to experience, first-hand what it’s like to swim with the sardines.

South African ‘Mermaid’ freediving champion Beth Neale has captured unique footage of this year’s bumper sardine run on the KZN South Coast Picture: Ryan Daly

Originally from Johannesburg, ‘mermaid’ Beth is currently living on the KZN South Coast, having only just broken her own ‘no fins’ freediving record by diving to 50m in Bermuda last year while raising over $20,000USD (more than R34 000) to teach children ocean conservation and freediving. 

South African ‘Mermaid’ freediving champion Beth Neale has captured unique footage of this year’s bumper sardine run on the KZN South Coast Picture: Ryan Daly

An avid ocean lover, adventure-seeker and passionate conservationist, she couldn’t miss the opportunity to experience the planet’s greatest biomass migration – the annual Sardine Run. 

Using a Gopro camera, drone, and Insta360 360-degree camera, Neale and her team were able to capture a completely unique all-round view of the Sardine Run which will give viewers the chance to experience it from the comfort of home.

“What an incredible feeling to freedive into millions of sardines! I feel so fortunate, as most people only get to see the sardines as they are hauled onshore in nets, sold in crates on the roadside, or even in a can. 

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