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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Who knew?

Sand dollars, like all members of the order Clypeasteroida, possess a rigid skeleton known as a test. The test consists of calcium carbonate plates arranged in a fivefold radial pattern.[2] In living individuals the test is covered by a skin of velvet-textured spines; these spines are in turn covered with very small hairs (cilia). Coordinated movements of the spines enable sand dollars to move across the seabed. The velvety spines of live sand dollars appear in a variety of colours—green, blue, violet, purple—depending on the species. The tests of dead individuals are often found on beaches, the textured skin missing and the skeleton bleached white by sunlight.
I received a comment on my post yesterday about having killed the sand dollars, so I thought I should explain. The comment was correct, and yes the sand dollars were murdered, but it was purely accidental. Let me explain. My friend Barbara took the ferry to Sand Dollar Island where they encourage you to look for sand dollars. What they don't bother to tell you is not to take the BROWN ones. They are alive and you will kill them. Well, Barbara did take the brown ones and later that evening was at a party where she mentioned finding these brown sand dollars. A lady there scolded her good for having done this and now Barbara feels just awful about having killed these sea creatures. Never in a million years would she have done this if she had known. Neither would I, we even take the bugs in the house outside, we don't squish them. So anyway, my question is why on Earth is this ferry taking tourists over to this little sand bar to collect sand dollars in the first place and why don't they educate the passengers on the way over,there is plenty of time to have a little chat and remind people to only take the white ones! So I apologize if any of you were offended at seeing the brown sand dollars hanging on my sculpture. I think maybe I will make this sort of a shrine to them and when I show it have some sort of write up asking folks to respect our coast. The commenter on my blog was right, the tourists do as much harm as anything. When I went over to Shaklelford Banks a few weeks ago, it was littered with so much trash, I just wanted to come back with a trash bag and do some clean up. I did fill my bag with some things for re use. I found tent stakes, really cool glass bottles, sunscreen, a very nice pair of shorts (WTF), and some other stuff that people had either lost or just left behind.
Anyway, sorry to the little sand dollars who lost their brothers and sisters, we won't do it again :)

3 comments:

Linda Starr said...

So glad I learned about those being alive, thanks.

Tracey Broome said...

Linda, I don't know why I never heard this, I lived on or near the coast most of my life! I still feel bad for these poor little things I have, but now I know...

Michele said...

I didn't know about the sand dollars - I always look for some when we make it to Nova Scotia, and I know they are there because other people find them, but I never see them. I had no idea they are brown when they are alive. I don't kill anything (okay, mice, but just to keep them out of the house - it's them or me) and I would hate to not have known about is if I ever do find one. So thanks for the lesson. I envy you your coastal life - I love water and am throughly land-locked in Alberta. And I hate cold... now I'm just depressed....