bait ball symphony

What Sardine Run is all about ? It is huge school of sardines, some estimate 15 km long, migrating along Wild Coast every year at winter for the reasons not completely understood by science yet. Alexander Safonov


School usually stays pretty deep, in 40-60m range. Dolphins are responsible for separating small portions of these gigantic school into smaller ones called bait balls and pushing them to the shallow water, there they are more comfortable with hunting. Various species of sharks take advantage of this opportunity presented to them by dolphins, since it is believed that moving pattern and density of big school disorients them, making feeding on big school difficult – this is one of the reasons why bait fish always instinctively groups together then threatened. Birds, usually covering big distances in the search of solitary fish in shallow water arrive in huge flocks and take advantage of these generous opportunity too. Game fish, like tuna and sailfish join this frenzy. Ultimately there are bryde’s whales, capable of feeding on sardines, too. Result is unique hunting collaboration and feeding competition between different species, which is not only one of the most spectacular natural events on the planet but also puzzle box full of unanswered questions for the science.

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22 Mar 2011

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