What is a sand dollar and how does it live? Watch this to see.
How many times have you wandered a beach and thought hmmm...what isthat? What makesthattrail? What doesthatthing do? Whoah, where didthatcome from?
Did you ever read the personals ads in the newspaper back in the 80's? "I enjoy long walks on the beach." That had to be the most popular line. Maybe it still is in Tinder?
Anyways, just whyDOwe like walking on the beach? Naturally, because of the way it allows our minds to wander, the white noise of the waves creates a space for us to meditate all the while noticing the trails, the shapes, textures, and colors on the sand along the way. Wow, so much to see, think about, and wonder. Admittedly, it can be pretty distracting for meditation but great for a wandering mind.
Now what about this, this beautiful....creature? Animal? Shell? Coin? Thing that holds little angels? Just what IS a sand dollar anyways? Here in Panama, they are called "Sea Cookies." That's a pretty cute name.
On our beach here in Morrillo, are actual living sand dollars. Whole bunches of them. Turns out they like friends and lots of them. Like us, they are quite social. These stealth little carnivores slither just under the surface of the sand along the sandy beach using the hairs on their underside and along their edges. In calmer waters they actually stand on end to capture food and spawn.
They use those fine hair-like structures to creep along and all the while moving food to their mouth - what we see as a hole on the bottom. Those 5 "doves" that you find inside a dead sand dollar are actually their jaws that they use to scrape algae and grind up microscopic organisms in the sand or floating in the water.
As they spend a couple of days chewing up their tasty morsels, they are flushing water out the pretty flower that you see on the top of the sand dollar. If you look closely, the lines of the flower petals are actually gills. So, food goes in the mouth on the bottom and then water is pushed out through the flower at the top. So much to learn!
Sand dollars can live to the ripe old age of 10 years old. This one is appears to be 8 years old; you can tell the age by counting the rings on the top (like a tree). So, other than us humans being their main predators, Star fish, birds, and fish like to feast on these rather unique animals of the sea.
I hope you get to wander about the beach and if you find a Sea Cookie, think of us in Panama while we are here thinking of you.
Your Friends in Morrillo,
Cari and Ryan Mackey
Owners and Hosts
Morrillo Beach Eco Resort