The Sand dollar is a flat member of the sea urchin family. All sea urchins are roughly circular in shape and have a hard skeleton called a test. Live sand dollars have a test covered in velvety, hair-like spins. A sand dollar uses these spins to capture food particles and to move the food to its mouth on the bottom of its body. Seagulls are the most common sand dollar prey.
Handling a sand dollar is not harmful to you or the sea urchin. Sand dollars have a five-petaled design visible on the top of their exoskeleton. They are often found on the east-facing beaches on Jekyll Island near the waterline.
Sand Dollars – Alive or Dead?
In the picture, the bottom two sand dollars are alive, while the top two sand dollars are dead. They came from the beach just outside Sandpiper Cottage. Collect a few dead sand dollars as a souvenir, but leave the live ones. Sand dollars come in various shades, but they often turn white with natural bleaching in the sunlight. You can paint the sand dollar with watered-down Elmer’s glue or white paint to strengthen the shell. Since the test is porous, the design on the shell will show through once dried.