Monday, 10 January 2011

The Sand Dollar

Growing up in Ivory Coast as a child, my family and I would spend all our weekends on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.  One of my major memories of this coast was my fascination with the Sand Dollars.  I would spend hours strolling on the beach and looking for these curious objects, I treasured them like gold!  During Christmas we would spray paint them in silver and gold and use them to decorate our Christmas tree.  I was also given a gold necklace with a golden Sand Dollar pendant which I would never take off until I moved to Europe and my best friend Alexandra (who lived in a different country to me) convinced me to "exchange" necklaces until we next saw each other, I saw and still see Alexandra regularly every year but never saw the necklace again!  She did the same exchange with one of her teenage boyfriends and then broke up with him and he now has my necklace.

But what are these curious objects really? 

I used to believe they were actual dollars that had traveled the Atlantic ocean from America and were eventually washed out on the coast of the Cote d'Ivoire!  Other legends say that Sand Dollars are pressed sand that has been dried or even the money of mermaids washed-up from the deep. The Sand Dollar is also a Christian Easter and Christmas legend, the five slits representing the wounds on Christ when on the cross, the Easter lily with a star in the middle representing the star of Bethlehem and on the back is the outline of a Poinsettia, the Christmas flower. The Legend of the Sand Dollar also tells of the 5 dove's that are inside and how when the sand dollar is broken open it spreads good will and peace.

In reality, this fragile disk is the skeleton or "test" of a marine animal. By the time the test washes up on the beach it is missing its velvety covering of minute spines and appears somewhat bleached from the sun. It is hard to believe it was once alive.
Sand dollars are from the class of marine animals known as Echinoids, spiny skinned creatures. Their relations include the sea lily, the sea cucumber, the star fish and the sea urchin. When alive, the local species, Echinarachnius parma is outfitted in a maroon-colored suit of moveable spines that encompass the entire shell. Like its close relative the sea urchin, the sand dollar has five sets of pores arranged petal pattern. The pores are used to move sea water into its internal water-vascular system which allows for movement. 

I am still very fascinated with the Sand Dollar and browsing on the internet I came across this Victoria's Secret bikini... a must have for Sand Dollar lovers!

1 comment:

  1. The necklace disappeared so that you keep your searching spirit and your fascination for the sand dolllars :)