South Africa West Coast

St Helena Bay Information

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From Crayfish to Iron
Whale TailSt Helena Bay is unique as it is the only place on the West Coast where the sun rises over the sea. This is particularly important for early morning whale and bird watchers.

During the Ice Ages, the mighty glaciers that changed the landscape and vegetation of Europe did not reach down to the western coast of southern Africa

Thus, in geological terms this region has remained unchanged throughout the ages resulting in the unique flora and the eerie granite outcrops formed by winds, currents and changes in the sea level over the millennia. 700 000 years ago, descendants of the first human beings migrated southward from central Africa. Stone tools, shelters and artifacts from these early settlers are still being found. The cultures that developed from these people, (who were sometimes isolated for long periods by geological factors) resulted in a keen understanding of the land and its flora and fauna. The Khoikhoi and the Sonqua (San) were people who lived on the land and understood its every feature.

The arid region made water and the use of it a focal point of their culture. So, when the first Europeans landed in St Helena Bay under the leadership of Vasco Da Gama in 1497, there were bound to be misunderstandings...Go to History to read more about these fascinating people and their fate.

Today, St Helena Bay is home to the fishing industry and has the largest concentration of fishing factories which provide more that half of the fish produced in South Africa annually. These factories are distributed along the south-western coast of the bay and include communities like Stompneus Bay, West Point, Sandy Point and Steenberg's Cove.

Excitement grows during 'snoek' season (snoek are very special fish found only off the south african coast. There are similar species elsewhere but no one can mistake the delicate and unique flavour of real snoek.) A particular delicacy (also called Cape Caviar) is snoek roe. Snoek soup, quiche and many other dishes are very much part of the South African cuisine

Crayfish/rock lobster/kreefCrayfish/Kreef (West Coast Rock Lobster) are abundant on the West Coast. The crayfish industry provides much needed income for many poor folks along the west coast, but like all seafood, it is particularly susceptible to over-fishing. Abalone (Perlemoen), Oysters & Mussels are more delicious fruits of the sea found on the West Coast

Jasus Ialandii (West Coast Rock Lobster

By Avril Brand

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Graphic: ©"Whale Tail" by Avril Brand