Sand Dollars and Sense

pearl grouping

I Googled “sand dollar” for some fresh inspiration and stumbled on a photo of a sand dollar on a bed of broken shells.  Hmmmm “what about a bed of pearls?” my brain said because I need to dump…I mean use up… a shoebox of pearls.

cilia showing on a live sand dollar

I collect sand dollars from time to time on our beach and have always been a little worried when I picked up one that wasn’t bleached white by the sun.  When I clicked on this photo it took me to and I thought it would be fun to share their informative blog post about sand dollars.

How do you know if a SAND DOLLAR is alive or not when it is isn’t bright white?

If a SAND DOLLAR is dark in color and half buried in the sand and/or water, it is most likely still alive and we should let it stay in its place in the water.

So here’s the way to tell if it’s alive or not… Look for the CILIA and velvety skin. These are the things that keep the animal alive and if they are missing  they are not alive any more.

sand dollar cilia


Do you see how the edge and surface of this SAND DOLLAR looks like it has fur?

sand dollar without cilia

So now take a look at this next photo…. is this still alive? No. Even though this SAND DOLLAR is still gray in color, there’s no possible way it could be alive since there are no SPINES nor CILIA nor TUBE FEET. It has no way to breathe or move without those things.

So next time you see a SAND DOLLAR while walking the beach, remember to leave it alone if it’s dark and hairy but if you are unsure if it’s alive… take your time to inspect this amazing creature before you assume it’s a “keeper”. Look for any signs of hairs, fur or velvety skin.


pearl grouping

Now I won’t be worried if there is a gray sand dollar waiting to be picked up.  I put them on my back deck in the sun and they bleach white in about 7 days.

After I used Mod Podge to glue all the pearls, I filled in the blank spots with white sand.  I have been debating if I want to add my new sand dollar phrase: “The Beach Makes me Feel Like a Million Dollars”.  I sort of like this piece as it is so it can tell it’s own story.


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