A bird’s eye view of Gerickes Point is seen from the farm above the
sandstone cliffs of Swartvlei beach. The sandstone sculpture viewed from a certain angle has a likeness of a crouching lion.
This is its signature and most photographed landmark. It is a reasonably easy climb to the top from where magnificent views of the ocean immediately open up to you.
There’s so much to do and see at Gericke’s Point that it’s no wonder it is a much favoured spot by locals and tourists alike.
You may spot the resident pod of Humpback Dolphins surfing the waves towards the beach. These dolphins do not ride the bow or stern wave of boats as the Bottlenose Dolphins enjoy doing. Instead, they avoid harbour areas because of boating activity. It's probably why they like this bay!
Of course this doesn't mean they don't travel along the coastline. It just means that they constantly return to this quieter area to rest. It also means that you have a good chance of seeing them along the whole shoreline of Sedgefield beaches and particularly from the lion's head at Gerickes Point.
In the winter and spring months, the Lion’s Head at Gerickes Point is a great vantage point from which to see Southern Right and Humpback whales as they migrate northwards from the Antarctic to mate and calf in the shallow waters along the Agulhas bank and in protected bays along our coastline.
At Gerickes Point you cannot help but notice the magnificent weathered sandstone cliffs that are some of the highest in South Africa. They are, in effect, fossilised dunes! These cliffs provide nesting sites for two colonies of Cape and White Breasted Cormorants that are frequently seen in large numbers in the Swartvlei Lagoon. Besides these, seagulls, herons and oystercatchers in particular are plentiful at Gerickes.
The previously endangered African Black Oystercatcher is endemic to South Africa and at one time it was estimated that there were no more that 5000 birds along our coastline. Steps taken to protect their breeding areas have made all the difference and it seems these birds have recovered well.
There are many successful breeding pairs in the vicinity of Gerickes Point and they are striking birds to look at and interesting to observe. They mate for life. You might notice that a good number have been ringed.
Check out the tide table in the Edge or you can use the link to a good website in the right-hand column of this page. At low Spring tide when low tide is at its lowest, stroll along the Swartvlei Beach to Gerickes Point and spend several fascinating hours investigating the exposed rock pools which will always provide some surprises no matter how many times you visit.
You may even like to swim and snorkel in some of the deeper pools! Every time we visit this spot there is something new to see so it’s a place that one can return to again and again.
In the earlier days fishing boats used to be launched from Gerickes Point and you can see remnants of the tin and wooden shelters built to house the gear and boats, and channels built as slipways to guide the boats out over rough rocks and to then haul them back on to land again.
It is also a popular recreational angling spot where Black Musselcracker, Kob, Garrick (see MPA page) and Galjoen are amongst the frequently caught fish.
Poenskop, Musselcracker, Black Steenbras – have a bag limit of 1 per day with a minimum allowable bag size of 50cms. This fish stock is depleted because the species grow slowly and take 10 years to mature when they are 55cm long. At 70cms females change sex to males. If allowed they could live to 42 years of age reaching 1.2m and weighing in at 40kgs. They are endemic to South Africa.
Kob, Kobeljou – have a bag limit of 1 per day with a minimum allowable bag size of 60cms. Dusky Kob grows larger and is more common than the Silver Kob species which can also be found along the Garden Route coastline. They can reach 1.9m, weigh in at 75kgs and live to 42 years of age. Today with the high demand for them that would be exceptional.
Galjoen– there is a bag limit of 2 per day and minimum bag size is 35cms. It takes 6 years to reach maturity when it is between 31-34cms in size. It can reach a size of 80cms weighing in at 3kgs and living to around 13 years of age. Depleted stocks were improved by introducing a closed season which lasts from 15 October to end of February. They are inclined to stay in one area for several years. Galjoen is South Africa’s National Fish.
Sharks are regularly caught along our shores and the feisty Ragged tooth shark are frequently reeled in. Their conservation status is recorded as endangered by Two Oceans Aquarium, Cape Town and the “catch and release” procedure should be practised when they are hooked. Despite their fearsome appearance they are harmless to man and as one of our apex predators of the sea, their presence is vital in maintaining the health and diversity of our marine environment.
An avid diver since 1990, Lesley Rochat, nicknamed the Shark Warrior, is an internationally recognized marine and shark conservationist, award winning filmmaker and campaigner, environmental writer, public speaker, conservation photographer and activist. Since she founded AfriOceans Conservation Alliance in 2003, she has remained at the forefront of shark conservation in South Africa. To go to her website, www.lesleyrochat.com click here!
In spite of the outrageous murder of some 100 million sharks a year around the world I hope that in South Africa, most of our enthusiastic recreational fishermen are educated enough to know the important role sharks play in maintaining healthy marine ecosystems.
As I said there’s much to keep the whole family occupied if you’re on holiday and enjoy the beach and being out in unspoilt nature. Gerickes Point is a beautiful and absorbing place to spend the day. Here is surprise sighting of a young Cape fur seal spotted grooming itself in a protected pool. Clearly its unperturbed by human presence.
For a whole different perspective one can also do a guided “Moonlight Meander” with local expert, Judy Dixon. Find out more click here!
AfriOceans Conservation Alliance (AOCA) is a registered non-profit organisation and is well known for its unique campaign work, exciting research projects and education and awareness initiatives, and its role in being prepared to speak out for those who cannot. AOCA proactively encourages and lobbies for policies and practices that provide sustainable marine conservation and calls upon all people, particularly the young, to aspire to the long-term conservation of the oceans off the African continent.
Fish the Sea All you need to know about South African Freshwater & Saltwater Fish Species and how to fish for them. This includes respecting the marine environment and observing good conservation and sustainable fishing practices.