A woman found a living sand dollar and recorded what she saw. It’s gone viral over the years.
The video, as the uploader notes, shows the “difference between a live and a dead sand dollar.”
A sand dollar is a type of burrowing sand urchin belonging to the order Clypeasteroida.
They are related animals include sea cucumbers, starfish, and sea urchins.
They have tiny spines all over their bodies that look like hair, and they help the animal move along the ocean floor.
In the clip, you can see the spines moving at around the 1-minute mark.
“Live sand dollars are members of the Phylum Echinodermata, meaning ‘spiny skin’. As the name implies, they have tiny spines all over their bodies that resemble hair. These spines help the animal move along the ocean floor and bury itself in the sand. Hold the sand dollar gently in the palm of your hand and observe the spines. If they are moving, it is still alive. The animals lose these spines soon after they die,” says the Sanibel Sea School.
Living sand dollars, according to the website, can also turn one’s skin yellow.
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Watch the tiny tube feet move around these sand dollars’ lunules! The lunules function as a pressure drainage channel to prevent waves and currents from washing the animal away, and as a sort of filter during feeding. It’s amazing what you notice when you just take a minute to observe nature. #sanibelseaschool #Sanibel #Captiva #sanddollars #shells #florida #oceanlove #oceantribe #hyperlapse @sundialresort
“Place a sand dollar on your open palm and leave it there for a minute. If it leaves a yellowish stain, the animal is alive. Sand dollars can’t survive out of the water for more than a few minutes. If you find a live one, return it to its home by placing it gently on the sea floor, so it can continue to play its important role in Sanibel’s ecosystem,” the site says.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium says they have a mouth and jaw to eat small plants.
“Sometimes a sand dollar “chews” its food for fifteen minutes before swallowing. It can take two days for the food to digest. Scientists can age a sand dollar by counting the growth rings on the plates of the exoskeleton. Sand dollars usually live six to 10 years,” its website says.