Why is the galjoen mentioned in the same sentence as the springbok and protea? And have you ever gone fishing at Mooinooi?
Springbok, protea... galjoen
To all outward appearances, the yellowwood tree, blue crane, and galjoen have little in common, but just like the springbok and the protea, these three are national symbols of South Africa. The choice of galjoen as national fish may seem odd – you’d think the honour would be bestowed on a great white shark or the North Atlantic right whale. But according to southafricaexplorer.co.za, the galjoen was chosen because it’s indigenous – this fish can be found from Namibia to Durban and nowhere else in the world. In 2005, 25 000 tagged galjoen were released at four points along our coasts. No fewer than 95% of the fish were recaptured where they were released. And the remaining 5% didn’t go much farther than their endemic area. Although it isn’t considered territorial, a galjoen probably won’t stray very much farther than 1,38 km of its “home”. The proposal to declare the galjoen a national fish came from one Margaret Smith. According to The Sea Fishes of Southern Africa, published in 1950, Margaret was the wife of coelacanth expert J.L.B. Smith. She argued that the galjoen was probably the first fish early settlers noticed and that’s why it may as well be chosen as the marine symbol that’s equal to the protea and the springbok. Mercifully our national sports teams are named after an antelope and a type of flower. Just imagine the shame if the Galjoene lost a cricket test to England...