Sea Shells

Rhinos mark their territory by depositing dung and spraying urine in the same spot – called a ‘midden’. It seemed strange that there are also archaeological middens, which mostly comprise shells and bones – there does not seem to be a connection. However, the word midden comes from a word of Old Danish origin, mykdyngja, which loosely translates into a rubbish heap. Nowadays, the two uses of the word are clearly different.

A shell midden is important, archaeologically, because it was – literally – the rubbish heap of shells that accumulated as a result of human presence. The South African shoreline is dotted with these archaeological treasure-troves, and they are well protected as a result.

The Sea Fishery Act 1988 has been, mostly replaced by the Marine Living Resources Act 1998, except in relation to shells.

  1. Unless you have a permit, it is a crime to collect and remove shells from the sea or the sea shore except for your own use and in then only in the number permitted by regulation.1
  1. Section 47(1)g read with section 38(1).