Seashell House, Cape Agulhas Accomodation

Mosie & Magical Mollusc

Mosie & Magical Mollusc

Shell themes




Fish & whelks

Shell Themes


Fish & whelks


Paper nautilus


Rockpool Life


Some local shells


Seashell House, 8 Golf Street, L'Agulhas


  • The Magical Mollusc is the largest sculpted spiral shell in the southern hemisphere and has something special inside it
  • Shell collections and shell wall cladding
  • Sealife constructions from flotsam & jetsam
  • Original art, prints, cards & silk scarves
  • Southern Cross Labyrinth

Contact: Yvonne 082 296 0144

Turn right into Quarry Street after the 4-way stop in L'Agulhas. No.8 is halfway up the hill. Entry free.


Shells as Heritage History Around

the Southern Tip of Africa


Yvonne Hope


 We have all seen the splendidly decorative shells in

glass-fronted display cabinets. Some are chosen for

size, some for form – spiney, twisted, knobbly, ridged,

ribbed – and some for colour and pattern.


 Many of these shells are found in equatorial zones.

Molluscs (the live animal and its shell) grow bigger

and more colourful in warmer waters. Here, at the

southern tip of Africa, molluscs have to adapt to

warm and cold currents, frequent wild and

pounding seas, rocky coasts sparsely covered with

red or green algae compared to warmer oceans.

The West Coast has far fewer varieties in a

family and sometimes none exist. 

Examples of this are the Turban shells (Turbanidae)

and the Nerites (Neritidae).


 Our lovely Giant turban or Alikreukel (a gastropod

or single-footed animal) is found from Cape Point to

Port Elizabeth. It has been harvested by coast

dwellers from the earliest of times. Middens

(discarded shell heaps) show us layers of

shells people harvested. Sadly even this abundant

mollusc is over-harvested. Five per person per

day is the rule and sacks of shells can be found

dumped after a weekend.


 Perlemoen or Abalone ( Haliotis midae) is also a

limpet and gastropod which fetches huge prices as

an afrodisiac delicacy.  It grows to 114mm

after 13 years. Harvesting was banned in 2008.

(Two Oceans, G. Branch, M.Branch, C. Griffiths,

L. Beckley)


 Today - 2021 – the really large shells are scarce.

There are Abalone farms filling the commercial

and replacement needs.  “If you take and don’t

replace you destroy” – Y. Hope.


 Collections of shells have been donated to the

Shell & Sea Life Museum and some by

beachcombers who were active for 57

years. I have an Abalone shell measuring 170mm

across. Midden shells give a good idea of size in

past eras and comparisons with shells gathered

today show how large a mollusc can grow if left alone.


Our Southern coast has a huge diversity of molluscs,

not the most exotic or decorative, but hardy and well

adapted. The limpet family occur all around our coast

and more than 50% of those can be found here.

The limpets exposed in inter-tidal zones are covered

in black algae for disguise on the dark rocks.

Limpets are also territorial and live within their

regenerative gardens of algae.


 During my nineteen years of beachcombing and

cleaning-up around the Southern Coast I have

verified that the donated shells are found locally.

I do not buy exotic shells as most are taken live.

People have given me beautiful collections they can

no longer accommodate or take with them.

I display those as well as marine animal egg

cases (sharks), shell egg cases (Nautilus) and

mollusc egg cases. (Yes, all shells grow from eggs

or larvae). I also display ‘constructions’ of that

other sea-life – plastic.


 So keep that shell your grandparents valued so

much. Give it to a collector or sell it. I find it

impossible to trash a shell – take it to an

ocean where it becomes sand for you.

Amongst my collection of books on shells is

the TWO OCEANS A guide to the marine

life of southern Africa by G.Branch, M.Branch,

C.Griffiths, L. Beckley – an invaluable source

of information.

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