Why is the galjoen men­tioned in the same sen­tence as the spring­bok and protea? And have you ever gone fish­ing at Mooinooi?

Go! Camp & Drive - - Contents -

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...

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