Mermaid free diving with sardines during lockdown

We’re sharing footage of this incredible oceanic migration which has become synonymous with the KZN South Coast

During the 2020 lockdown Beth Neale, the four-time South African Freediving Champion, the African Continental Record Holder for no-fins freediving, renowned ocean conservationist and filmmaker, headed to the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) South Coast where she had taken to the water to experience, first-hand #thegreatestshoalonearth. Beth has captured some never-before-seen footage of the Sardine Run which you can a taste of on the ‘South Coast Tourism’ Facebook page. 

Last year’s Sardine Run had been described as one of the biggest in over a decade by CEO of Ugu South Coast Tourism (USCT), Phelisa Mangcu. “As well as providing food security for so many of our local fishermen and communities, the Sardine Run is a phenomenal experience to witness from both the beachside and within the ocean.” We are so excited to have freediving champion, Beth Neale, on our shores, sharing footage of this incredible oceanic migration which has become synonymous with the KZN South Coast.”

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. An avid ocean lover, adventure-seeker and passionate conservationist, Beth 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, Beth and her team were able to capture a completely unique all-round view of the Sardine Run which gave viewers the chance to experience it from the comfort of home.

It’s 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. Underwater, you get to see these fish in their true glory, shimmering with iridescence as they move, mesmerisingly, together as if one massive organism. Once you penetrate the top layer, they realign above you, blocking out the sun so everything goes dark. It’s quite intimidating!

Beth and her team dived near Scottburgh on the KZN South Coast where one of the shoals she encountered was about 12 metres deep and the length of a rugby field. I was shocked when I saw the drone footage, as I had no idea how big the shoal was. I thought it was small and I was managing to keep up with it for an hour as I swam against the current!

Alongside the masses of sardines, I got to experience swimming with some of the apex predators taking advantage of the wealth of food on offer. There were hundreds of sharks swimming through the shoal, feeding, and they nearly bump into you as they fly by. Luckily, they only have one thing on their minds – sardine snacks!

My hope is that, through my content, others will be inspired to travel to our coasts and experience the beauty of our oceans. As a filmmaker, my mission since lockdown has been to document the impact of the pandemic on coastal communities and inspire others to get back to nature as lockdown restrictions lift.

Beth also shoot footage of the Marine Protected Area and world renowned KZN South Coast diving site, Aliwal Shoal, hoping to capture more shots of indigenous shark species and their activities.

Follow USCT for videos, images and up-to-date information on this year’s Sardine Run. Check out the ‘South Coast Tourism’ Facebook page and @infosouthcoast on Twitter for breath-taking images, including aerial and underwater footage. For more information about the KZN South Coast and USCT, visit www.visitkznsouthcoast.co.za or download the free ‘Explore KZN South Coast’ app to find a local supplier.

Follow follow Beth Neale’s incredible adventures at follow @onebreathbeth on Instagram or visit www.aquasouls.com

📸 Dr Ryan Daly

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EDITOR'S NOTE

Hi all and welcome to our inaugural edition of the Catch Cook Magazine.

Dean Dickinson – Catch Cook Editor

I feel it pertinent to clarify exactly what we are about and what we stand for. Born out of a desire to showcase a more healthy way of life, free of the contaminates, hormones, antibiotics, and preservatives, the channel evolved and has grown to encompass far more. We are striving to provide our viewers with entertaining and educational inserts on how to catch, forage, farm and hunt in the most productive, current and sustainable way possible with an emphasis on harvesting what you can eat fresh and sustaining the resource for future generations.

Our pro staff and contributors will then show the viewer how to cook their catch in fresh and exciting ways.

"LIMIT YOUR CATCH! DON’T CATCH YOUR LIMIT!"

Dean Dickinson

The conservation angle is my driving motivation to be involved in Catch Cook. In my opinion, there is major potential to educate our viewers on size and bag limits as well as the need to release breeding stockfish and highlighting fish species whose stock status is under pressure and encouraging the release of these species and alternatives so these stocks can recover in future.

By putting in place rules on what we will air, i.e. slot sizes on various species and a complete ban on the cooking of certain others, we believe that we can strike a balance between catching, cooking, and conservation.

The publication will be another arrow in the Catch Cook quiver – a value add to our subscribers and sponsors. We will present the fish we catch, the destinations we catch them in, how it was done, our equipment, the latest tricks and tips and then provide in-depth recipes on how they were cooked.

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