Friday a gull with its catch, while others wait to simply pluck the fish out of the shallow water.

Friday: Hussein fishing, while his daughter puts the fish he catches in the bucket.

Saturday: Seals at the Hoek on Noordhoek beach feasting on the fish.

Saturday: Exhausted fish in ankle-deep water.

Saturday: Mid-day, and with the heat creating much haze, lazy, full seagulls rest, while below them the sardines valiantly try to escape - the dark patches are all sardines.

Saturday: Sardines in a small wave, using up all the space they can to avoid being cast on the beach.

Saturday: A fisherman casting his net from the jetty.

Saturday: Sardinops sagax, the sardine or pilchard, in shallow water.

Saturday: Part of a school. Unfortunately the water was hazy, and photography wasn't easy.

Saturday: Fish and more fish.

Saturday: And some more fish.

Saturday: Two snorkelers surrounded by fish, while the jetty is full of activity.

Sunday: All over - Hout Bay beach littered with fish.

Sunday: Dead sardines.
All photos Guido Zsilavecz
Hout Bay sardine run: Friday 18 November to Sunday 20 November
It started a week earlier, when huge numbers of bluebottles, columbus crabs and goose barnacles landed up on Hout Bay beach. Already then the number of birds indicated something was happening. On Friday I received notice that it was going wild, and indeed, on arriving at the beach I saw hundreds of seagulls all over the place, together with a good number of seals. Some people were already using nets to catch the sardines from the Hout Bay harbour wall. On Saturday the scene was even more magnificent. At Noordhoek's leftmost little bay a large number of seals was decimating a school, while in Hout Bay itself huge number of birds and seals were driving the fish onto the beach. With word having spread people were catching them with anything they had: pool scoops, bags, buckets, shadecloth and proper nets - while others simply picked those up that landed on the beach. While seals hunted singly or in groups, the by-now fat seagulls rested before catching some more. The fish, exhaused, were simply cast ashore by the small waves. On Sunday it was all over - some birds and seals remained, but the beach was now littered with dead fish - compared to Saturday which was a gloriously sunny day, Sunday's overcast and rainy conditions seemed to create the appropriate mood for the occasion.

The spectacle on the weekend was amazing to see - and it was not the first time - in 2003 during a dive in Hout Bay we also saw the bottom littered with sardines, and from what I gathered speaking to some people, that day they also landed up on the beach.
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