The newly displayed giant snoek puppet, known as Snoekie, that can be seen hanging above the Two Oceans Aquarium's Touch Pool, forms part of a series of street-theatre productions called Stories van die Blou Dam: Telling stories from the community in and around False Bay, focusing attention on our environmental and cultural heritage.

Snoekie was built by InMotion Studios, a non-profit company. InMotion Studios is a group of creative people who live around False Bay on the Cape Peninsula of South Africa. They have come together as artists to:

  • raise awareness of the rich natural and cultural environment we live in;
  • facilitate community workshops with the youth;
  • workshop and collect stories from in and around the Cape Peninsula;
  • collaborate with other cultural groups, organisations and businesses to bring social and economic activity to the area; and
  • foster community integration through spectacular visual performances.

To this end, Stories van die Blou Dam was conceived.

Snoekie at the Muizenberg Festival in October 2014

InMotion Studios' vision is to: "Build our community’s awareness of our individual and collective roles in sustaining our natural environment while developing our cultural and physical environment."

InMotion Studios gets Snoekie into shape in 2014

InMotion Studios has thus far been generously supported by Handspring Puppet Company, Cape Town Carnival, Olympia Café, Tread the Earth Lightly and Lekker Bistro (Kalk Bay).

Photo by Dr Patrick Garratt

What is a snoek?

The majority of people have never seen a living, swimming snoek (Thyrsites atun). Most people only know these fish as the “Catch of the Day” or as “snoek pâté”.

It seems to be a rather ordinary silver-grey fish when caught, but when alive, iridescent colours of purple, green and blue can be seen. Snoek are very attractive, fierce-looking fish!

Snoek live in the temperate waters of the Southern Hemisphere and around Africa from Angola in the west to Algoa Bay in the east. The maximum recorded weight of a snoek is 9kg and the maximum length 1,25m.

Snoek is an iconic fish species that is interwoven with the economics, traditions, culture, ecology, history and development of Cape Town and the Western Cape.

Snoekie at the Cape Town Carnival in 2015

Generations of fishermen have rowed out to sea when the “snoek loop” (snoek run) to catch enough fish, not only for their families, but also to sell. It is a staple food item in many households and, during snoek season, vendors can be seen on the side of the road, selling snoek from the backs of their “bakkies” (pickup trucks). Snoek can be served in many different ways – “braaied”, “smoored” (stewed), smoked, braised, dried, and deep-fried. Snoek is listed green by the Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (WWF SASSI).

Snoek in the Two Oceans Aquarium

The Aquarium has displayed snoek for short periods on several occasions. In the early days, some were eaten by sharks and others were eaten by large leervis in the I&J Predator Exhibit. Those displayed in the Ocean Basket Kelp Forest Exhibit found it difficult to manoeuvre around the rocky outcrops and kelp and, more importantly, could not compete for food in this multi-species display.

Two Oceans Aquarium Communications & Sustainability Manager Helen Lockhart with snoek on display at the Aquarium in 1996. Photo courtesy Roy Wigley/Sunday Weekend Argus  

Snoek are among the most difficult fish in the world to catch, transport and maintain on display – even more difficult than tuna. This is due, in part, to the fact that they are strong with long, whippy bodies and mouths full of teeth. Extraordinary expertise is required to capture and transport these fast-swimming fish, because any contact with a capture pole, human hand or exhibit wall is likely to damage the delicate mucous lining covering the body and infection can set in rapidly, with fatal results for the fish.

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