The memory is still so vivid. Two years ago, my sister and I were out on the beach in front of the Hotel del Coronado in San Diego at low tide. We had stayed overnight as a ghost hunting birthday gift, and we were making the most of our day before heading back home to El Cajon. It was early, about 7am, but the beach was already busy with walkers, joggers and frolicking kids. One kid in particular caught my eye; he was carrying a plastic bag and was frantically running around the beach, stooping down every few feet, picking something up and putting it in the bag – was he treasure hunting? I Before I could finish my thought, my sister gasped and said “Look!” Now that we were closer to the water, I could see dark red circles all over the sand. There were hundreds and hundreds of them, probably thousands. I walked over to one and picked it up. It was a sand dollar! But it was a live one, and I had never seen one before. It was a deep, rich red with very short “hair” on the backside. The beautiful design on the front of the shell was clearly visible.
The best way to find sand dollars, if they’re not already out on the beach like the ones we found, is to go out at low tide. Actually get into the water, and shuffle your feet around carefully, though not enough to make the water all murky. If you look closely, you can often seen a slight outline of a sand dollar that’s just beneath the surface of the sand. Remember, the ones you see in the water are usually still alive, and different states have different laws regarding taking live sand dollars. In Florida, for example, you can only take 2 live sand dollars per day. On most beaches, you can collect as many dead sand dollars as you like. It’s tough to find a perfect one that doesn’t have any chips in it!
This is what most people picture a sand dollar looking like; I think they’re even more beautiful when they’re dead, like this one:
It’s amazing that something so beautiful and artistic looking occurs naturally in nature. Mother Nature is definitely an artist, and I’m a huge fan of her work.