The Sand Dollar Walk – A Rare Pismo Beach Vision

sand dollarThe wildlife in Pismo Beach is something to be admired. One great creature often overlooked is the sand dollar. Yes, I said creature. Many people do not realize the sand dollar is an echinoderm related to the sea urchin and sea star. Groups of these beautiful animals can often be found as you walk Pismo Beach’s sandy beach at low tide.

You will notice the 5-point symmetrical white sand dollars seen are actually the rigid skeletons, called tests, and the animals are no longer alive. But if you look very carefully among the groups you may see one adorning a purple hue. This little guy is more than likely still alive. If you watch closely you may be lucky enough to see it move very slowly in what is called “the sand dollar walk.” This “walk” is how they bury themselves in the sand for protection. It is a rare vision simply because most people don’t slow down long enough to observe a live sand dollar in action. But Pismo Beach is just the place to slow down, relax, and observe nature at its finest.

As you take a stroll to admire these delicate creatures, here are some fun facts to keep in mind:

  • Sand dollars live on the sea floor from the intertidal zone to the subtidal zone.
  • Sand dollars are also called sea cookies, snapper biscuits (New Zealand), and pansy shells (South Africa).
  • Sand dollars live together in crowded groups. Hundreds of them can be found in one square yard.
  • The underside of the sand dollar is covered in moving cilia which allows the animal to sweep food into its mouth.
  • Sand dollars have teeth to chew their food which consists of crustacean larvae, small copepods, diatoms, algae, and detritus.
  • In rough waters, sand dollars have the ability to lay flat or burrow into the sand in order to anchor themselves in one spot. They also have the use of building a tougher skeleton to help combat currents. Younger sand dollars will “drink” sand in order to weigh themselves down while sand dollars in the larvae stage have no defense and are simply swept along for many, many miles.

If you want to find live sand dollars in Pismo Beach, keep in mind they are not normally found scattered evenly across the beach. As mentioned above, they group together while living and their skeletons are typically found grouped together as well. Be prepared to spend some time walking in between locations. But who doesn’t love walking on the beach? It will be leisure time well spent.

The SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel complements your explorations by providing direct private access to the beach. As you try to spot “the sand dollar walk,” we kindly remind you to watch your step as the sand dollar is very delicate and please never remove a live sand dollar from its habitat. After your search, return to the SeaCrest for more stunning ocean views, modern luxuries, and comfortable accommodations, sure to make your stay the perfect beach getaway.

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