Sardine Run Boat Cruise with Raggy Charters



Please note that Raggy Charters was the only successful applicant for the Boat Based Dolphin & Whale Watching Permit for Algoa Bay, South Africa. There was only one permit issued. The permit was issued on the 20th June 2011 by the Department of Environmental Affairs, which allows us close encounters with whales and dolphins. Although there were many factors that counted towards the allocation of the permit, we believe that we were successful because of our commitment to marine conservation and education. Most of the funds generated by our tours go towards The Penguin Research Fund which is trying desperately to explain the dramatic decrease in the African Penguin population and rectify this situation. Raggy Charters also undertakes regular beach clean-ups in the Port Elizabeth area and has started an initiative to offset our carbon footprint by planting at least one indigenous tree for every boat cruise we do.


Cost is R16500 per person & please email us directly to make a booking. We meet at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club in the Port Elizabeth Harbour at first light and usually return in the early afternoon (pre-booking required). Light refreshments and snacks are served during the cruise and there is the option of having lunch afterwards at the yacht club.


We start off the tour with a harbour cruise and a full safety briefing, after which we exit port and head out into the bay.


Map of Algoa Bay


In Port Elizabeth we tend to see the sardine run from March onwards, so each year we plan for a few trips out in April and May to find this incredible baitball action! Large shoals of sardines feeding near the ocean’s surface are targeted by hungry predators. Bait balls are usually started by groups of either African penguins or common dolphins. These animals work cooperatively to trap the sardines (or other bait fish) in a tight circle making it easier for fish to be eaten. The bait fish referred to above includes anchovies, sardines (pilchards), redeye round herring, saury and horse mackerel (maasbankers). Once the feeding frenzy begins, frightened sardines emit a strong odour which then alerts other nearby predators to the activity. Cape gannets, Cape cormorants, and various species of terns and shearwaters will then dive from above picking off fish from near the surface. Copper sharks, hammerhead sharks and game fish will have already joined the action. Then comes the bryde’s whales and minke whales to finish it all off. Lunging from below with mouths agape taking in both water and food, these magnificent animals launch themselves out of the water as the birds and sharks race to get out of their way. Although feeding frenzies may not last long, patient observers will see the animals regroup around another ball of fish and repeat the process until all the animals are satiated.


With Raggy Charters our guests get to experience this thrilling phenomenon topside from one of our two Safety Authority certified motorised catamarans. We only offer topside viewing as we find that it allows the photographers to stick with the action and therefore not miss out on any great sightings. The BBC have used Raggy Charters for filming the sardine run multiple times and recommend us for our excellent knowledge of the area and its marine life. Read more about the sardine run.


Both catamarans have a specially designed viewing platform which allows the guide to have the best possible view of the bay and thus chance to see any animals that may be present.


*Disclaimer: Raggy Charters cannot guarantee animal sightings on any cruise. Raggy Charters offers guests the opportunity to view wild animals which will move around at their own will and therefore we cannot be held responsible for the movements of these animals. Guests who are taken to St Croix are guaranteed to see African penguins, and therefore no refund will be given if other marine animals are not spotted. If absolutely no animals are sighted compensation, in the form of a free ticket for the next boat trip, may be given at the discretion of the skipper.*

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