Ultimo aggiornamento aprile 2, 2024

Sand dollars are often mistaken for seashells, but in fact, they are intriguing marine organisms that grace our shorelines.

These creatures are not just beachcombing treasures; they are living organisms with unique characteristics.

Live sand dollars have an endoskeleton covered by a layer of spiny skin, differentiating them from their smooth, deceased counterparts.

These animal exhibit a five-part radial symmetry akin to their sea star relatives, which gives them the appearance of having a “star” or “flower”.

Despite lacking a brain, they possess a simple nerve ring and move using a water vascular system to filter seawater for food.

Their diet consists of microscopic algae, plancton, and other floating particles in the water.

Social by nature, sand dollars are often found in groups lying flat on the sandy seafloor.


Can you touch a sand dollar?

When you’re walking along the beach and come across sand dollars, you might wonder if it’s safe to pick them up.

The good news is that it’s generally safe to handle both live and dead sand dollars.

They are not known to be poisonous, and they don’t bite. Their spines, while not sharp, should still be handled with care as they can potentially cause puncture wounds.

Dead sand dollars, which are often found washed up on the beach, are typically white or pale in color.

They have lost their spines and have a hard, rigid skeleton. This skeleton, while beautiful, is quite fragile and can break easily. COSÌ, if you decide to pick up a dead sand dollar, make sure to handle it gently.

Live sand dollars, d'altro canto, are usually brown or purple and have a covering of spines.

Sand dollars are by no means dangerous to humans. These creatures are safe to touch, but again, care should be taken due to their spines.

D'altro canto, touching these marine creatures can disrupt their natural behavior and potentially cause them stress.

COSÌ, while it’s okay to gently touch a live sand dollar if you come across one, it’s best to leave it undisturbed in its natural habitat.

If you’ve picked up a live sand dollar, it’s a good idea to put it back in the water where it can continue its life.


Are sand dollars dangerous?

As already mentioned – i dollari di sabbia non sono pericolosi. They have no teeth, which means they cannot bite you.

They only thing you may want to watch out is the spines on the underside of a live sand dollar, which the animal uses to move. These are not sharp and in most cases, even touching the spines won’t hurt.

Sand dollars are also neither venomous nor poisonous. This means that you can safely touch e eat them.

They can technically be consumed raw although it is better to cook them to soften them and improve the taste.

It is not common to eat sand dollars but they are said to taste like other mollusks, although with a rather bland taste.

If your dog or other pet has dug up and eaten a sand dollar, you also generally do not need to worry.


Digging up and cleaning a sand dollar from the beach

Collecting sand dollars can be a fun and exciting activity. When you’re on the beach, look for sand dollars that have washed up on shore and are whitish or pale in color, as these are most likely dead and safe to collect.

Never dig sand dollars from the ocean floor, as they burrow beneath the sand to protect themselves and if you dig one up, there’s a good chance that it’s alive.

To check if a sand dollar is alive, gently turn it over and look for tiny, centipede-like feet or hairs on its bottom side. If the hairs move when you brush them with your hand, the sand dollar is alive and should be placed gently back into the ocean.

Once you’ve collected your sand dollars, soak them in fresh water until they no longer discolor the water, then allow them to air dry on a towel.

To speed up the whitening process, you can also soak the sand dollars in a solution of half water and half bleach.

Always remember to be conscious of the amount of shells you take and do your part to preserve the sand dollar species by leaving living creatures in the ocean.


Come trovare dollari di sabbia durante il beachcombing

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