bird in the yellow sunset

You wanted a video? Is that what I heard earlier this week after I posted photos of lots of living sea creatures in the low tidal pools? If so….  I’m delivering! I captured some footage of the awesome SHARKS EYE, STARFISH, SAND DOLLAR, FIGHTING CONCHS, BABYS EAR and an incredible LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL. Wherever in the world you might be, sit back and enjoy the beautiful life on the Sanibel beaches.

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keyhole sand dollar mellita isometra

It’s thrilling to see a live SAND DOLLAR at low tide half buried in the sand and water, isn’t it?

cilia showing on a live sand dollar

It’s also thrilling to see bleached out SAND DOLLARS washing in with the tide as well, right?

sandy sand dollar CLW beach

But how do you know if a SAND DOLLAR is alive or not when it is isn’t bright white?

sand dollars in the surf ft myers beach

If a SAND DOLLAR is dark in color and half buried in the sand and/or water, it is most likely still alive and we should let it stay in its place in the water.

Little Hickory Live Sand Dollar

There have been times I have posted photos of SAND DOLLARS in my bucket that were grey in color. This has been a concern to folks who were worried about whether or not I collected live SAND DOLLARS. First of all, I would never collect a live SAND DOLLAR. But I completely understand the concerns from anyone who wants to make sure nobody takes a living creature out of its habitat – especially just to take it home for a souvenir.

sand dollars and shells in a blue bucket

So here’s the way to tell if it’s alive or not… Look for the CILIA and velvety skin. These are the things that keep the animal alive and on these SAND DOLLARS… they are missing so they are not alive any more. These are now just the TESTS of the animal… like the shell (although its not technically a shell).

dead sand dollars without cilia

Do you see how the edge and surface of this SAND DOLLAR looks like it has fur?

sand dollar cilia

SAND DOLLARS have short SPINES covered in CILIA (tiny hairs) so it can move along the sand and grasses. Along with those “hairs” are TUBE FEET (which look like “fur” to me too – heehee) which is actually how the SAND DOLLAR breathes.

live sand dollar with cilia and tube feet

I bet now, you can look at this next photo and see that all of these baby SAND DOLLARS in Clark’s hand are alive. After I snapped this photo, he put them back in the water.

live sand dollars sanibel Clypeasteroida

You can see it here too, right? These need to go back into the water where they belong.

baby sand dollar

So now take a look at this next photo…. is this still alive? No. Even though this SAND DOLLAR is still gray in color, there’s no possible way it could be alive since there are no SPINES nor CILIA nor TUBE FEET. It has no way to breathe or move without those things.

sand dollar without cilia

Julianna shows us that the SAND DOLLAR to the left of the photo is still alive and the other one on the right side of the photo has no “fur” whatsoever. She is a good steward of the earth so she put the live one safely back in the water and she gave the other “hairless” one to her mom for safekeeping.

how to tell if a sand dollar is alive

Most days you will see sun bleached SAND DOLLARS just like this…. Hairless! Furless! Completely “Bald”! haha

sun bleached sand dollar without cilia

So next time you see a SAND DOLLAR while walking the beach, remember to leave it alone if it’s dark and hairy but if you are unsure if it’s alive… take your time to inspect this amazing creature before you assume it’s a “keeper”. Look for any signs of hairs, fur or velvety skin.

Sand dollar sanibel

Now you can bet your bottom DOLLAR you’ll know when to leave those sweet living SAND DOLLARS alone…

low tide sanibel sand dollars

and when you can jump for joy when you find that keeper almighty DOLLAR.

sand dollar on a Sanibel beach

Oh, and I took a short video of a cutie little juvie LIVE SAND DOLLAR to show you how they move those little hairs around. I hope this helps!YouTube Preview Image

PS- Most of these photos are from articles I’ve published in the past, just click on each photo to be linked to those posts.

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Fist full of dollars. Sand dollars, that is

I found a fist full of dollars at Gulfside City Park Beach this weekend. SAND DOLLARS, that is.

sanddollar covered in sand

The evening low tide revealed live and dead SAND DOLLARS (CLICK HERE to see the difference between live and dead SAND DOLLARS)… but the coolest thing was to see all of the other living creatures we don’t get to see often. Look at this awesome live SHARKS EYE. Cool!

Live sharks eye mollusk in sand

This is a live pear whelk…

live pear whelk on sanibel beach

You wanna guess what live MOLLUSK this next photo is? It came out of a hole in the sand then made a trail along the sand bar. It’s long and white.

live baby ear mollusk trail on beach

Here’s another photo… I’ll let you think about it then I’ll tell you at the end of this post.

baby ear mollusk trail Sinum perspectivum

Look at this beautiful flowering purple SEA ANEMONE. Gorgeous!

sanibel purple sea anemone flower

Since we had two nice low tides each day this weekend (one at sunrise and one at sunset), I even got out to Lighthouse Beach at sunrise (I know, that’s unlike me! haha) to see thousands of live FIGHTING CONCHS invading the beach.

fighting conch shells invade the sanibel beach

Most were alive but there were a few empties scattered on the beach…

sanibel sunrise with shells

It’s always overwhelming to see so many…

thousands of shells at low tide on sanibel

Among the live creatures, there were a few empty gifts from the sea as well. Gorgeous BANDED TULIP.

banded tulip in the sand

Awesome orange CHESTNUT TURBAN…

orange chestnut turban shell on sanibel beach

And lots of other empty gems I found half buried in the sand to reveal their gorgeous selves.

Oh and the live MOLLUSK pictured above with the trail? It’s a BABYS EAR! Cool, huh? To see more LIVE BABYS EARS… CLICK HERE

flip flop beach finds on sanibel island florida

Join me on a iLoveShelling Shelling Adventure! CLICK HERE for dates…

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