Imagine being engulfed by a massive school of millions of Sardines! Every way you look nothing but shifting, shimmering, silver forms. The effect is hypnotic, a one of a kind phenomenon I will never forget.
The following is my extraordinary experience with this event just off shore at Panagsama Beach in Moalboal on the island of Cebu in the Philippines.
Unlike other places in the world the Sardine Run here can be witnessed throughout the year. The school used to be found off of the Pescador Island, but has now moved closer in and can be found in 12 – 40 feet of water just off the beach at Panagsama.
We stayed at Kasai Village Resort, a place I highly recommend due to its convenient beach front location, close proximity to dive sites (including the Sardine Run), a house reef loaded with an array of unique critters and the occasion passing Whale Shark, friendly staff and impeccable service.
Read on to discover what it’s like to run with Sardines.
“Runs with Sardines”
For the first time in 30 years of diving, I lost my buddy. They warned us about this potential problem during the dive briefing of the “Sardine Run”. They advised us to keep a close eye on each other as the sheer density of the mass of Sardines can completely consume your field of vision. What they didn’t say was - “Oh by the way, this experience is completely mesmerizing and you may succumb to a phenomena that I dubbed “Sardine Hypnosis.” Of course by the time you realize that you are under their spell, you may have been swept far, far away from your group, especially if there happens to be a little current.
I felt like one of those cartoon characters with spinning eyeballs. The lens of my camera became a kaleidoscope through which I was drawn deeper into the silver cyclone. The shimmering art display poured downward, shot upward, darted sideways and diagonally and then exploded like fireworks before my eyes. The lure of their movement was irresistible – I simply couldn’t take my eyes away.
By the time I came to my senses and realized it had been a few minutes (maybe more) since I had consciously looked for my buddy, he was nowhere to be found. It was just me and the massive school of Sardines I had taken up with. Lucky for me, by the time this happened I had actually worked my way up into only 12 feet of water. I followed standard lost buddy procedure and looked around under water for 1 minute prior to surfacing. No bubbles, no divers – I rose to the surface and noticed our dive boat far off in the distance. I inflated my safety sausage and waved toward the boat and to the guy on shore who was looking in my direction.
Shortly thereafter Krish, our Divemaster popped up out of nowhere next to me. I apologized for losing my mind to the Sardines and we waited together for the boat. I was reunited with my buddy on board the boat, reoriented but just a little giddy. Still, when I watch my video footage of this spectacular phenomena I am entranced.Watch the video of this experience by clicking the link below.