The legend of the sand dollar could have been told on Sanibel island. The reason is that Sanibel Island is a wonderful place to find Sand Dollars. No matter which beach you might choose, you have great chances to find them on every beach on our beautiful island. My personal favorite spot is the Northern end of Bowman’s Beach which is more remote and is a heaven for shell seekers.
To prepare you for your next treasure hunt, we gathered some fascinating facts and two popular legends surrounding this fascinating creature of the sea. Furthermore, we created a little guide how to best find sand dollars!
If you like the poem, copy the text at the end of our post and design a nice image on canva.com and create your first DIY sand dollar wall art decor picture. A sand dollar hanging on your wall will definitely add good luck and coastal charm to your beach home.
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Religious Legend of the Sand Dollar – Christian Symbolism
The Sand Dollar legend is an Easter and Christmas favorite story. The reason is that on the front of the sand dollar, you can find five slits representing the wounds on Christ when on the cross and the Easter lily with a star in the middle representing the star of Bethlehem. On the back is the outline of a Poinsettia. This is also called the Christmas flower.
Some of the legends tell of 5 little doves, hidden inside the sand dollar. These are often difficult to find as you need to break open the sand dollar. In fact they are the 5 jaws of the sand dollar, joined together in a circle, which, when broken apart, become individual dove-shaped pieces. I have only seen a picture of this, but they are remarkably like little birds.
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Non-Religious Legend of the Sand Dollar
According to wikipedia, the “dead sand dollars are sometimes said to represent coins lost by mermaids or the people of Atlantis.” Indeed, sand dollars look a lot like silver coins and therefore have a high value in the myths.
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How to Find Sand Dollars
It is always good to be prepared before going hunting – no matter if you are looking for shells in general or sand dollars in particular. Here is a little guide on how to best find sand dollars in Florida.
Bring a Bucket and Even Gloves
Sand dollars produce echinochrome, a harmless substance that stains your fingers yellow. This is why you want to bring a bucket to wash off and store your sand dollars. If you are mindful about your hands, pack some gloves as well.
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Check the Weather Forecast
The best time to find sand dollars is right after a storm. The reason is that the high waves push the sand dollars onto the beach. Especially during summer there are many storms in Florida and beaches tend to be emptier than during the busy spring season.
Get Out at Low Tides
Mornings during low tides are the best time to search for sand dollars. The reason is that not all sand dollars will be able to return to the gulf after being pushed on the shore. Furthermore, water is more choppy during high tides and as a result, shelling is much harder.
Sand Dollar Watching
Sand dollars like to hide under the sand and under piles of shells. This is why you can try to shuffle the sand with your feet. During summer, there are many stingrays in the gulf. This is why you want to be careful when shuffling in the low tide water. Also keep in mind that there might be strong currents.
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Fascinating Sand Dollar Facts
Sand dollars are closely related to starfish, sea lilies, sea cucumbers and sea urchins.
When found “alive” on the beach, a Sand Dollar is dark purplish in color. It is covered by many tiny hairs to help it move across the sea floor. When they die, the hairs and any attached organic materials rot away leaving the “test”, which is the skeleton.
The skeleton is made of calcium carbonate, and it’s the calcium that reflects as white.
11 Things You (Might Not) Know About Sand Dollars
1. SAND DOLLARS ARE SPECIES OF FLAT, BURROWING SEA URCHINS.
“Sea urchins are spiny, globular echinoderms in the class Echinoidea. About 950 species of sea urchin live on the seabed of every ocean and inhabit every depth zone.”
2. WHEN THE SAND DOLLAR IS ALIVE IT IS DARK
Living sand dollars are covered by a skin of velvet-textured spines which are covered with very small hairs. The hair makes them look dark. Please note: on many beaches taking dark colored Sand Dollars is forbidden. The reason is to protect nature. Thus please only take home the white sand dollars as souvenirs.
3. THEY EAT WITH THEIR HAIR
“In their sandy seafloor habitat, sand dollars use their fuzzy spines, aided by tiny hairs (cilia), to ferry food particles along their bodies to a central mouth on their bottom side,” according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
“They capture plankton with spines and pincers (pedicellariae) on their body surfaces. A tiny teepee-shaped cone of spines bunched up on a sand dollar’s body marks a spot where captive amphipods or crab larvae are being held for transport to the mouth.”
4. THE SUN BLEACHES THE SAND DOLLAR
When the sand dollars wash up on the beach, after floating in a low tide and washed by the rolling sand and are exposed to the sun they are bleached white .As a result, they look like a large silver coin.
5. SAND DOLLARS ARE ALSO KNOWN AS A SEA COOKIE OR SNAPPER BISCUIT.
In New Zealand the sand dollar is known under the name sea cookie or snapper biscuit. In South Africa people call it a pansy shell.
6. SAND DOLLARS ARE NOT POISONOUS TO HUMANS
While sand dollars can emit a harmless yellow material called echinochrome. But the sand dollars are absolutely not poisonous. This means you can touch them without fear whether they are alive or dead.
7. HOW DO SAND DOLLARS DIE?
The sand dollars are alive when they wash in during high tides and become stranded. Unfortunately, not all of them are unable to make it back to the water once the tide recedes. As a result, the sand dollars are drying up and dying.
8. HOW TO TELL THE AGE OF A SAND DOLLAR
You might be surprised to learn that telling the age of a sand dollar is pretty simple. Believe it or not, finding the age of a sand dollar is just like determining the age of a tree. Simply, count the growth by counting the rings on the underside of the sand dollar’s exoskeleton. As a rule of thumb, sand dollars live approximately 6 to 10 years old.
9. CLEANING SAND DOLLARS
The best way to clean sand dollars is to wash and soak them in a solution of water and bleach. Mix equal parts bleach and water and let them soak for at least 10 minutes before rinsing them. Next, spread them on an old rug outside and let the sun take care of the rest.
10. HOW TO BEST PRESERVE SAND DOLLARS
To enjoy your sand dollars for many years, mix together white glue and water in equal portions. Then, take a sponge brush to cover the entire sand dollar. The next step is to place them on some wax paper to dry.
11. WHAT IS INSIDE A SAND DOLLAR
Some people believe that the inside of sand dollars are treasures. But reality is that the inside of a sand dollar contains a burrowing sea urchin. The inside is revealed when the sand dollar dies and the shell and the sea urchin are separated. The only surprise is that the sand dollar has five jaw sections, 50 skeletal bone parts and at least 60 muscles!
For more information on sand dollars on Sanibel Island check this story!
The Legend of the Sand Dollar – Poem
This legend of the sand dollar is best printable if you just mark it or copy it into a nice design on canva.com
There’s a pretty little legend
That I would like to tell
Of the birth and death of Jesus
Found in this lowly shell.
If you examine closely,
You’ll see that you find here
Four nail holes and a fifth one
Made by a Roman’s spear.
On one side the Easter lily,
Its center 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 center open,
And here you will release
The five white doves awaiting
To spread Good will and peace.
This simple little symbol,
Christ left for you and me
To help us spread His Gospel
Through all eternity.
A Word from healthylifestyleflorida.com
Do you believe the legend of the sand dollar? Even if you don`t, finding a sand dollar is a moment of joy and success. And walking along the gulf is a great way of exercising and a contribution to your healthy lifestyle. Their beauty will add some coastal charm to every beach home.