Thousands of live sand dollars are washing ashore on the south end of Seaside Beach according to the Seaside Aquarium.
Staff at the aquarium posted about the phenomenon online, saying it appears that they are washing in during the afternoon high tides and getting stranded along the high tide line. While the sand dollars are still alive when stranded, they are unable to make it back to the water once the tide recedes. Instead, they are drying up and dying.
The Seaside Aquarium wrote, “At this time, we do not know what has caused this, and these types of incidents usually have several contributing factors. We are also unaware if this is an isolated incident or if this is happening on other beaches.”
The aquarium says saving the sand dollars is difficult. Even if they’re put back in the water before they die, they’d likely just wash up again.
The aquarium checks the ocean water temperature daily and wrote that staff haven’t seen any temperatures that are not typical for this time of year.
The aquarium says sand dollars are related to sea urchins. The outside of their shell is covered with millions of tiny spines which look like ‘fuzz’ or hair. These spines aid in the movement and feeding of the sand dollar. On the underside, in the center of the sand dollar is its mouth. A sand dollar’s diet consists of plankton, which it breaks down with its five small teeth. Sand dollars are found worldwide and there are many different species, each with their own unique characteristics.
The aquarium warns that if the sand dollar is still fuzzy it’s likely alive and can smell bad if taken home.