The Pansy Shell


A special creature that is dear to the hearts of folk who love this area. The Pansy Shell is the emblem of Plettenberg Bay and is found along our coastline.

It is a fragile member of the Sea Urchin family with a flattened irregular shell, which lives, buried in the sand. The animal gets its name from the petal like patterns on the upper surface, which is formed by tiny holes through which the tube feet once extended. At the centre of the petals, one can find a little star with holes through the shell on four of the five points. There is no hole at the fifth point, which is found at the rear of the animal. The precise function of the two slots that pass through the shell is still not known. The inside of the Pansy Shell consists of many little stalactites, which support the shell and prevent it from breaking when digging into the sand. When alive the Pansies are purplish-blue from the tiny spines covering their surface. The shells are the skeleton of the Pansies, which have died and been washed up to the shore. The sun bleaches them into a creamy white colour.

The Pansy Shells are protected and no LIVE Pansies are allowed to be removed from their habitat. Happy hunting for the white skeleton shells which you are welcome to treasure!

When you find a Pansy shell yourself, you officially become integrated into the beauty of Plettenberg Bay and when a Pansy is given to you as a gift, it means that you are welcomed as a special part of Plett. Some folk also say that since this skeleton is so beautiful, with dove-like spines finding one or being given encourages you to retain only the joy from your past and releases you into a future filled with promise…and if you also get a little of Plett’s sand in your shoes, you’re sure to return here!

Atomical info supplied by Andy Fleming-UPE

Excerpt out of ‘Plett in the Whale Season’