The Pansy Shell
Welcome to our new website and our first blog post! You will see our logo has changed and thanks to S2 Web Solutions there is a new more modern feel to the layout. Our previous logo was designed by the former owners of Bayside Lodge™ – Ivan and Felicity Mason who built this large family home about 20 years ago. It was later turned into a Bed and Breakfast when their children grew up and we bought it from them in 2014.
The former logo also included shells and we have continued the theme with one pansy shell – the iconic symbol of Plett which enthusiastic collectors find in abundance during very low spring tides. Our guest folders include this story about the pansy shell and we have our own samples in the bar. In fact the first time we found pansy shells was only in 2016 on Keurbooms beach and we were told that once a pansy shells finds you – you are declared a “local”!
PANSY SHELL FACTS
Plettenberg Bay’s emblem is the pansy shell. This beautiful shell has a perfect flower carved on its back by Mother Nature for special reasons of her own. The biggest thrill of a visit to Plettenberg Bay is finding an undamaged pansy shell on the beach!
The pansy is a living creature and not a shell at all. It feeds while burying itself just under the surface of the sand in very shallow water. When it is alive it is purple in colour and covered in short furry bristles. When it dies it takes about a week for it to be bleached white by the salt and the sun.
A few years ago Mr. Edgar Cooke of Plettenberg Bay kept two pansy shells as pets and it looked as if “pet pansies” might take over from the “pet rock” craze of the time. He kept his pet pansies in a plastic bowl filled with sea sand and water. And every second day he took them for a walk on the beach. It didn’t mean much walking for Mr. Cooke as his pansies moved at the rate of only about a metre an hour.
Pansy shells have the best of both worlds. They are born male and then later become female in order to lay the eggs already fertile inside them. These eggs are washed out to sea by the tide. They turn into larvae which are washed back in by the tide and deposited in the sand. Here they hatch in time into tiny pansy shells.
The Garden Route is the only place in the world where these shells are found. A similar species is found elsewhere in the world where they are known as sand dollars. They differ from their South African cousins in that they have no perforation and have a rounder disc shape.
Pansy Shells are sold as paper weights, pendants and wall plaques. They are also exported to Australia and America to conchologists who value them highly because they are so rare.