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.
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:
The Legend of the Sand Dollar
There’s 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 You’ll see that you find here, Four nail holes and a fifth one Made by a Roman’s 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