Beach walkers and nature lovers of the Garden Route delight in finding this fragile rare beauty intact and washed up by the Indian Ocean currents. The Pansy Shell, (also known as a Sand Dollar or Sea Biscuit) makes its appearance on local Beaches.
The iconic and delicate Shell can be found with frequent visits of our Beaches: Lookout Beach, the Pansyshell Sandbank at Keurboomsriver Mouth, Keurbooms Beach, Robberg Beach in Plettenberg Bay, most beaches along the Garden Route and Noetzie near Knysna.
Our beautiful holiday destination of Plettenberg Bay and Bitou Municipality even has the Pansy Shell as the town emblem!
Delighted Plett Holiday Makers finding their very own Pansy Shells:
You don´t find the Pansy Shell it finds you.
It is difficult and nearly impossible to find a shell so rich in symbolism as the pansy.
Explained to me how it represented the story of the Birth, Crucifixion and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
On the top part of the shell you can clearly see in the center a star, which represents the Star of Bethlehem that led the Wise Men to the manger when Christ was born. Around it is the outline of the Easter lily, a sign of Our Lord’s Resurrection.
At the edges of the star are four holes and in the center another one. These remind us of the four Sacred Wounds of Our Lord on His Hands and Feet that He bore after being nailed to the Cross.
A center hole, the fifth, represents the pierce Wound to His Sacred Heart made by the spear of Longinus.
If you turn the sand dollar over, you will find an outline of the Poinsetta, the Christmas flower.
Are Pansy Shells rare?
It is incredibly rare to find an intact Pansy Shell on the beach. Plettenberg Bay beach walkers and nature lovers still delight in the shelly wonders washed up by the Indian Ocean. Even though they are called ‘shells’, the pansy is in fact the skeleton of a sea urchin.
What´s inside a Pansy Shell?
Finally, if you break it open, five "doves" emerge – the doves of the Peace and Joy of Christmas. The Pansy Shell always has five doves inside
The Legend of the Pansy Shell
Many poems have been written about the legend of the pansy shell.
This one, author unknown, is my favourite:
There’s a pretty little legend That I would like to tell Of the birth and death of Jesus Found in this lovely shell
If you examine closely
you’ll see that you find here Four nail holes and a fifth one Made by the Roman spear
One on each side is the Easter
lily its centre is the star That appeared unto the shepherds and led them from afar
The Christmas poinsettia
Etched on the other side
Reminds us of His birthday
our happy Christmastide
Now break the centre open
and here you will release
The five white doves awaiting
To spread goodwill and peace
This simple little symbol
Christ has left for you and me
To help us spread His gospel Through all eternity.