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What is a Sand Dollar?

As a child, you may have heard that sand dollars are pressed sand or lost money from mermaids living out in the sea. But since we've never seen a mermaid off the Oregon Coast, the following explanation is a bit more believable.

The Sand Dollar (Echinarachnius parma) is a flat-looking burrowing sea urchin. The flat rigid skeleton is called a test and has a five star pattern of pores.

Picture of a Sand Dollar


Sand Dollars live in shallow sandy waters and their fossils are washed up on Oregon Coast beaches regularly. These fragile fossils break easily, so finding a whole one is rare and special. They are a favorite among beachcombers, children, collectors, and decorators alike.

The sand dollar got its name from the shape and color of the test after it is washed up on the beach and bleached by the sun making it look like a large silver dollar. See the comparison below:

Picture of a Sand Dollar Picture of a Silver Dollar


The Legend of the Sand Dollar

Thereís a lovely little legend
That I would like to tell,
Of the birth and death of Jesus
Found in this lowly shell.

If you examine closely
Youíll see that you find here,
Four nail holes and a fifth one
Made by a Romanís spear.

On one side the Easter Lily,
Its center is the star,
That appeared unto the shepherds
And led them from afar.

The Christmas Poinsettia
Etched on the other side,
Reminds us of His birthday
Our happy Christmastide.

Now break the center open
And here you will release,
The five white doves awaiting
To spread Good Will and Peace.

This simple little symbol
Christ left for you and me,
To help us spread His Gospel
Through all Eternity



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