Ancient Fish Traps in Hessequa Rural, Western Cape
Ancient intertidal stonewall fish traps can be found all along the Cape West Coast from Mossel Bay to Gansbaai. Skulpiesbaai on the outskirts of Stilbaai is home to such a concentration of ancient fish traps, an attraction well worth a visit when in the area.
The traps were originally built by the Khoisan about 3000 years ago and represent a legacy of the early inhabitants of the southern Cape coast. When the first white colonists arrived in the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, the indigenous Khoisan were still working the fish traps, and the new settlers quickly adopted their ingenious techniques. Later operation of the fish traps required a permit from the local magistrate and until recently local Stilbaai fishermen continued to maintain the 23 walls of the tidal fish traps to preserve them against the destruction of the waves.
The declaration of this area as a Marine Protected Area in 2008, with the fish traps being included in the Restricted Zone, has brought the maintenance and use of this ancient technology to an end. The ancient fish traps have now also been declared a national monument.
Most fish traps are half-moon shaped, vary in size and each has its own name. There’s Alleroudste (Oldest), Niksvanger (Nothing-catcher) and Wonder-werk (Miracle), among others. They are visible at low tide and the beach at Skulpiesbaai is quiet, peaceful and beautiful!
This spot is also a wonderful place to snorkel, especially for the inexperienced. Pack a snack basket and stretch the outing out, the kids will be kept busy swimming with the many fish to see in the rock pools!
Things to see and do
- Skulpiesbaai Bay
- Fish Traps
- Rock Pools
- Beach & Picnics
Best during daylight hours
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