Folks visit Navarre Beach for the crystalline blue waters, white sand, and diverse marine life. It’s a place to swim, fish, and relax. But some people come to the beach on a mission – to find seashells and sand dollars, fragile treasures that rarely wash up on shore fully intact.
Summer visitors may have to work harder this year to find sand dollars than those who come in the late fall.
Sand dollars are easiest to find in early morning low tides, which will come again in late October. But they can still be found with a little luck, a lot of patience, and some information on where to look.
They’re most commonly found in the early morning on the “wrack line,” which is that line of shells, vegetation, and even human debris marking the highest recent tide. Sand dollars get carried to the high tide line because they are so lightweight.
In shallow water, live sand dollars can be found in large groups and, if conditions are calm enough, you’ll be able to spot a circular slightly raised area or a circular depression in the sand.
When a sand dollar is in its bed there can be as many as 600 congregating together. Sand dollars are living creatures who cannot breathe without contact with the water.
You may see a live one on the edge of the beach, but you shouldn’t pick it up out of the water.
How can you tell if a sand dollar is alive? Live sand dollars are darker colored and have moving spines. If you do pick up a live one, it will transfer yellowish, harmless chemicals onto your skin.
The creature has different markings on the top and the bottom. On the bottom, you’ll see five jaw parts, which resemble doves. On the top, there are five flower petal shapes, which help the sand dollar breathe.
But what beachgoers really covet are the white sand dollars, particularly if they are completely intact. Those are the skeletons of sand dollars and are very fragile.
Although they are referred to as shells by many, sand dollars are in the echinoderm family rather than the mollusk family.
Mollusks outnumber echinoderm, and that’s why when someone sees a whole sand dollar (deceased white sand dollar), it feels magical.
The likelihood of it making it to shore intact also increases the satisfaction of finding it.
When a whole white sand dollar didn’t get walked on, stomped on, crushed by the waves or storms and then it was miraculously found by a beachcomber, it feels special.
Book your stay today at our Navarre Beach vacation rentals to find your own white treasure on Navarre Beach.