Sharkie bites

Haai nee man!

(An alternative title for this post could be “Stay classy, Gansbaai“… But I don’t think it’s just a Gansbaai thing.)

On one of the days we were in De Kelders it rained unpleasantly in the morning, so Tony and I visited the Danger Point lighthouse and explored Gansbaai harbour. In the fish shop there we found the following array of delectable treats:

There is a factory nearby that processes shark meat, and I suspect that the biltong, offcuts and other little bits of shark originated there.

It’s generally not a good idea to eat the ocean’s top predators such as whale, tuna and large sharks, but the vast majority of shark species are actually quite small and wouldn’t be prone to the mercury and toxic chemical buildup that occurs so prodigiously in the larger species at the apex of the food web.

Commercial shark fishing is prevalent in South Africa, and eating shark seems more common (among fishermen, at least) than you’d think judging by these two threads of discussion. It also seems to be something that happens by accident, when unscrupulous suppliers mislabel or deliberately obfuscate the identity of the fish they are selling.

What do you think about purposely going to buy some smelly little bits of dead shark to eat? And what do you think about being able to buy them in a town deriving much income from the massive shark eco-tourism industry that relies on live sharks, located just around the corner?

[“Haai nee man” is an Afrikaans expression said to someone as an expression of disbelief – “no really man!” where “man” is a commonly used casual South African form of address when one wishes to exhort or chide, and “nee” means “no”. “Haai” is untranslatable in this context, but also means “shark” in Afrikaans. So it’s funny. Of course, by explaining all this, the humour is lost. Oh well.]

Published by


Lapsed mathematician, creator of order, formulator of hypotheses. Lover of the ocean, being outdoors, the bush, reading, photography, travelling (especially in Africa) and road trips.

One thought on “Haai nee man!”

  1. Hi Claire

    In this context the work “haai” is more like the English “het” as you say. I’d suggest it’s more from the word “haai” as in “haaikona” or more correctly “haikona”, even “aikona” or “hayikona”…

    The word “aikona” or “haikona” means “no”, “not at all” or even “by no means”.

    It is derived from the Nguni (Zulu, Xhosa, etc.) words “hayi” (no) and “khona” (here) – literally it means “not here/now”.


Comments are closed.