During low-tide walks this week sand dollars (Dendraster excentricus) have been the dominant life form. Everywhere dotting the exposed sand were white tests (as in dead shells), soft deep-purple disks (the healthy live ones), and shapely sand traces (from under-sand burrowing). The feeding must be good and the living easy on this beach. (I just learned that more than 500 individuals can crowd into a square yard!)
Sand dollars are often collected as souvenirs and used in art projects. The white tests are beautiful (although several people collecting the purplish shells didn’t realize these were living animals).
To counter the notion of sand dollars as art, I thought I’d post the art created by sand dollars. Don’t you think their living works are lovelier than those adorning our bureaus and walls?
References & Resources
If you want to learn more about our Pacific coast sand dollar, visit this nicely done San Francisco State biogeography class post from 2005.