The sardine run is one of the largest and most spectacular animal migrations on the planet. This phenomenon begins off the west coast of Southern Africa. The Cape Gannets along with other predators like sharks, seals and whales, all participate in a feeding frenzy, a mass hunt to secure themselves a portion of the millions of schooling sardines. These birds are specialist divers with a unique aquatic ability to dive into the ocean after their prey.
The sound of Cape Gannets plunging into the ocean resembles gun-shots. Skilfully dodging other predators as they pursue their prey, the gannets adopt an aquatic version of flight.
The power of the dive as the bird enters or exits the water creates a plume of bubbles like a vapour trail. As the bird meets its target, the energy of the dive is broken into an exploding mass of bubbles, feathers and fleeing sardines distorted by the water and the light flooding through the ocean. My challenge is to communicate this balance of abstraction and realism.
It’s often so competitive down there that when the gannets dive through this bait ball, they will catch a fish and swallow it whole before they even hit the surface, as is the case with this solitary diver.
Description: Cape Gannet with sardines
Medium: Oil on canvas.
Dimensions: 145cm x 90cm