Walking down a golden beach, you come across a kaleidoscope of colours.  Shells of all sizes and colours lie strewn along the beach.  Jeffreys Bay is world famous, not only for being home to the perfect wave, but also for the variety and quality of shells that are deposited on its unspoilt beaches every day of the year.

Shell middens that date back hundred, if not thousands of years prove that shell life has been abundant for centuries along the South African coastline.  Jeffreys Bay has seemingly inexhaustible supplies of shells that are replenished after each high tide.

Photo: Robbie Irlam
Photo: Robbie Irlam

Shell collectors are always on the beaches. Holiday makers can be found filling large plastic bags with any shells they can find, whilst the more serious collectors can usually be recognised by the smaller size of their containers.

Winter seems to be the better time of the year to collect shells.  The big swells, generated by cold fronts in the mighty Southern Ocean that batter the coast of Africa during the winter months, wash up shells in great numbers and usually in better condition.  Collectors from all over the world make the pilgrimage to Jeffreys Bay to sample the huge variety of shells and to enjoy the natural beauty of the famous surfing beaches of Supertubes.

The same wave action that creates perfect swells for surfing together with the prevailing ocean currents are responsible for the variety of shells on our beaches.  The Agulhas current predominates in our ocean waters, causing large numbers of warm water molluscs on the beaches.

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Some Indo pacific species reach their southern most limit in this area and a number of different specie can be found in Jeffreys Bay. The ever popular cowry shell can also be discovered by shell collectors and a wide variety makes for exciting collecting.

Every morning shells wash up on the beaches of Jeffreys Bay. Photo: www.jeffreysbay.com

Shells can be found all along the beaches in Jeffreys Bay but seem more predominant in certain areas.  The best places to look are along the section of beaches that are covered by rock like the Surfers Point area.  Most shells wash up during neap tides, but one can find shells just about all year round.

The Jeffreys Bay Shell Museum, also known as the Charlotte Kritzinger Shell Museum is a good place for prospective shell collectors to start.  The museum provides a reference source for both professional and amateur shell collectors alike.  The collection of shells is extensive, with local and exotic shells all being displayed.

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