If you’ve ever been to the beach, you’ve probably spotted some sand dollars. These fascinating little creatures are just part of the coast! No day at the beach is complete without taking a walk along the coast and collecting a few of these beach souvenirs with their unmistakable shape, form and color.
But did you know that the sand dollars are actually living things? In fact, they are a species of shallow, burrowing sea urchins. The not so shallow ones are known as biscuits and their relatives include sea urchins, sea cucumbers and starfish. Sadly, those that we collect on the beach as hard, white discs are already dead.
Finding a living sand dollar is far rarer than seeing the dead washed-up animals, so rare that we can’t even imagine what a living specimen looks like! Well, thanks to this inquisitive woman, we know it now. This woman searched the beach for animals she wanted to examine and for stones to collect, but what she found instead is unbelievable.
She found a big, round, dark disk in the shallow water. At first you can’t exactly see what she’s holding, but it’s actually a living sand dollar. Before they die, these sea urchins are actually much bigger and darker and look a little slippery. Even crazier: When she turns the sand dollar, it is covered by tiny feelers! You can NOT see this at the dried up sand dollars we normally pick up at the beach. Zooming in, you can see how the feelers move, which is different than anything we’ve ever seen.