When out on our Coastal Sealife, Shelling and Dolphin Cruise, our guests often find sand dollars and other beautiful shells washed up on or near the shore. Sand dollars are a species of extremely flattened, invertebrates and belong to the same family as the sea urchin, sea biscuit and sea stars. They are typically one inch to four inches in diameter with a five-pointed shape on the back.
When they are alive, they’re a dark color, covered with short dark spines that almost look like fur on the bottom side. These spines are used to propel them around on the sea bottom and to push small pieces of food to its mouth. If you pick a live one up, always place them gently back furry feet side down. Sand dollars like muddy, shallow ocean bottoms near land. All live shells should be left in the water, never collected and killed.
When you find a dead sand dollar, they are a white circular disk, and all the fuzzy feet are gone. This is the creature’s exoskeleton and it is ok to collect the shell.
It seems that these creatures enjoy each other’s company as 600 or more can live in one square yard!