Even the birds "Ganets" get in on the show
The "greatest shoal on earth" was being sidelined as the World Cup entered the quarterfinals, fishermen and netters said on Wednesday.
"There have been absolutely no tourists of any sort this year. This World Cup has definitely dampened things," said fisherman and netter Morgan Vadivelu.
He said the tourists and documentarians who usually visited the province to get a glimpse of the slippery catch, were not there this year.
"Everyone is so excited for the soccer that they are forgetting about everything else," he said.
Netter Cameron Lobel agreed, saying the soccer had left no room for anything else.
"When we go to the beach in search of the sardines, it's very quiet. And usually around this time of year, the beaches are swarming with people and tourists."
However, an official at the KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there were tourists in the province for the event, but "not as many this year".
In spite of good sea and weather conditions, there was no good news yet on the shoal.
Since early June, there had been hardly any sardine activity, except for 15 baskets being netted in the Ifafa Beach area on the province's South Coast, said Sharks board operations head Mike Anderson-Reade.
However, Vadivelu said eight crates were netted in Park Rynie two weeks ago and were sold for R450 a crate.
"And right now they are deep inside Port Edward, but I have faith that they will come.
"I would say it will be coming out more nearer to Durban by this Friday," he said.
Sardines were being sold along roadsides in Durban, but these had not been netted in the province, he said.
"Fishermen are netting it in the Eastern Cape and bringing it here in trucks and selling them. But they are not fresh."
Last year, small shoals were netted at different spots in KwaZulu-Natal, but the sardines only appeared on Durban's popular coastline about two weeks after the board and netters had given up hope of its arrival.
On Wednesday, the board predicted that sardines would arrive on the South Coast within the next few days.
There was, however, doubt that the shoal would beach.
"It is possible that the sardines will make their long-awaited appearance on the lower South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal in the next couple of days," said Anderson-Reade.
"The KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board is removing the shark safety gear... as a precautionary measure."
He said there had been "a lot" of dolphin movement between the Grosvenor and Mbotyi area, which was a sign that the shoal was on its way.
This was the most activity seen in the last three weeks, he said.
The annual sardine run is one of Durban's most popular events as families gather on various beachfronts in June and July waiting for the fish to reach the shore.
When the shoal does arrive, parents and children pack baskets and crates and head home for a fresh and tasty meal.
In the Indian community, masala-marinated sardines are favourites