The beaches along the coast of Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina are more than just for catching rays and cooling off. The sandy shores are ideal for exercising, watching wildlife, fishing, shell hunting, and finding sand dollars peaking out of the sand. Adults and children alike find sand dollar hunting a fun experience. It is essential to know what is a sand dollar before plucking sealife from the shores. 

What Is A Sand Dollar

Sand dollars are a member of the sea urchin family. The flat biscuit-shaped urchin burrows itself in the sand. 

The body is flat and shaped like a disk. On appearance, a five-flower-looking design is central to the round outer shell. 

On the underside in the middle is a mouth where the urchin ingests food. Spines on the bottom transport the sand dollar and push food from the outer ring of the sea urchin to the center. 

Are Sand Dollars Illegal

In Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina, it is illegal to keep live sand dollars. All sand dollars which are alive must be released back into the sea. 

When releasing a sand dollar, ensure to place the urchin where the water and land meet to prevent it from drying out. 

Why Is It Illegal To Take A Sand Dollar

The release of sand dollars is required because they serve no purpose in a household other than a form of decoration. 

Rather than pulling a live sand dollar from the sea and allowing it to dry and die as a means of decoration is unfair. Urchins cannot escape and therefore is an easy target of both children and adults meandering the beach. 

The urchin provides no food value to human life but rather a showpiece for friends and family. Release sand dollars for both young and old beachgoers to explore on the next seaside adventure. 

Can A Sand Dollar Hurt You

A live sand dollar is not capable of hurting a human. When alive and atop of a hand, the urchin is likely to leave a yellow streak in its path of movement due to the excretion of echinocrome on the handler’s hands.

How Do You Determine If A Sand Dollar Is Alive

To determine if a sand dollar is alive, inspect the spines on the underside of the urchin. Moving spines indicate the urchin is alive. Release the living creature back into the sea. 

Remember, it is illegal to harvest them when alive, and stiff fines are enforced if caught.  

How Do You Determine If A Sand Dollar Is Dead

Generally speaking, only sand dollars that have turned white due to being bleached by the sun should be removed. However, those that are still brown are potentially dead. 

Determining if the spines are still actively in motion is challenging, so concluding that the creature is dead presents a challenge.

What Is The Process Of Cleaning A Dead Sand Dollar

The process of cleaning dead sand dollars is straightforward. Minimal supplies are required to complete the task.

Rinse the already dead sand dollars in freshwater to remove attached debris. After the rinse is complete, soak the urchins in freshwater. The bucket may require multiple refills. Soak until the water remains clear.

Remove the sand dollars from the bucket and gently brush away dirt in the seams of the urchin. Use caution as they break easily. 

Lastly, mix a bucket with half water and half bleach. Allow the urchins to soak for a period of up to fifteen minutes. 

How Do You Find Sand Dollars 

To locate sand dollars, walk along the tide line. The tide line is where the ocean breaks onto the sandy beach.

Remember to bring a bucket on the adventure. Determine the urchin is dead when found and gently place it into the bucket for safekeeping. In the process, you will both exercise and find treasures.

One of the best places to locate sand dollars is on the best Golden Isles Beaches in Georgia. 

What Is A Sand Dollar: Now You Know

The next time you’re headed to a coastal beach in Georgia, North Carolina, or South Carolina, search for sand dollars. If you are unable to locate a dead urchin, handle the creature gently and release it back into the ocean. The process is fun despite the inability to bring a sand dollar back home. Lastly, educate your friends on what is a sand dollar to prevent them from harvesting live urchins.