Earth Touch

Gannets – The Wrong Side of the Run

1 x 60'

‘Gannets – The Wrong side of the Run’ (1 x 50′ HD) explores the movement of two massive sardine populations that originate from the single stock at Cape Aghulas, located at the tip of South Africa, and the effect these fish have on a food chain that includes a huge diversity of wildlife, but particularly the Cape Gannet.

From Aghulas, the sardines spread in two directions. One route sees eggs and larvae being washed up the west coast of Southern Africa by the Benguela Current, and the other sees a mysterious migration of the little fish up the east coast towards Durban.

In the west, the gannets and seals of Malgas Island have to compete with commercial sardine fishing operations and their numbers are plummeting as a result. Due to the lack of sardines, animal behaviour on the island is degenerating into interspecies predation. But in the east, the story is very different. Here, thousands of gannets congregate on Bird Island and are sustained by the annual feast known as the Sardine Run.

Unusually for a bird, gannets are underwater specialists, and this film reveals stunning and unique footage of gannets diving at breakneck speed into the ocean, swimming down to 20 metres to catch the elusive sardines. We see their extraordinary hunting abilities and the true extent of their refinement and adaptability, not to mention their bravery in a predator-rich environment.

All the high-speed action and drama of the Sardine Run is shown in stunning HD, with dramatic predation sequences involving many other species, including dolphins, sharks, gulls and the unexpected arrival of a giant Bryde’s whale.

As the Sardine Run winds down, we return to Malgas Island and the situation takes a deeply sinister turn. Seals are now actively hunting and killing both gannet chicks and adult birds, signalling a definite change in the ecology. A carcass that floats up on the rocks reveals that the starving seals are killing the gannets, but only eating the fish out of the birds’ stomachs.

How long will it be before over fishing triggers the collapse of the entire ecosystem around Malgas Island? And as the trawlers switch their attention to the east coast shoals, how will this affect the Sardine Run in the future? Can the ecology of the area adapt?

For more details and full episode screening links, please contact:
Sam Thompson
Head of Rights Sales
sam.thompson@factorymedia.com
+44 (0) 207 332 9716

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