Did You Know

The pansy shell is in fact not a shell, but the skeleton of a burrowing sea urchin that lives in shallow sheltered bays and estuaries along the Cape south coast. The name pansy shell comes from the five-petal flower pattern they have on the top of the skeleton. They are related to the urchins known as ‘Sand Dollars’ found in the USA. In living individuals the skeleton is covered by a skin of velvety spines that are in turn covered with small hairs. Coordinated movements of the spines enable the urchins to move across the seabed and burrow sideways into the sand. These creatures are over-exploited and now classified endangered.