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Florida Guide > Miscellaneous



There are many legends surrounding the Sand Dollar, but my favourite has to be that they are the coins of mermaids, who accidentally drop them, and which are then washed ashore on stormy nights.

These small, round and fragile white discs are very collectable, and beachcombers all over the Gulf Coast can be found searching for them, stooped over the shoreline, seeking these little skeletons. The best places to find sand dollars are on the Gulf Coast, round Captiva.

The Sand Dollar is actually the skeleton of a small marine creature, related to the starfish, the sea cucumber, the sea urchin and the sea lily. It has a fascinating petal pattern on it, which are made by five sets of pores on the upper surface. These are actually pores which sea water moves in and out of, allowing it to move.

Several of the legends tell of 5 little doves, hidden inside the sand dollar. These are often difficult to find as you need to break open the sand dollar. In fact they are the 5 jaws of the sand dollar, joined together in a circle, which, when broken apart, become individual dove-shaped pieces. I have only seen a picture of this, but they are remarkably like little birds.

Another legend is that it is a Christian symbol, and these anonymous poems describe its significance:

Version One:

There’s a pretty 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 centre 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 centre open

And here you will release

The five white doves waiting

To spread Goodwill and Peace.

This simple little symbol,

Christ left for you and me

To help us spread the Gospel

Through all eternity.

Anonymous

Version Two

Upon this odd-shaped sea shell

A legend grand is told

About the life of Jesus

The wondrous tale of old.

The centre marking plainly shows

The well known Guiding Star

That led to tiny Bethlehem

The Wise Men from afar.

The Christmas flower, Poinsettia

For His Nativity

The Resurrection too is marked

The Easter Lily, see.

Five wounds were suffered by our Lord

From nails and Roman’s spear

When He died for us on the cross

The wounds show plainly here.

Within the shell, should it be broke

Five Doves of Peace are found

To emphasize the legend

So may Love and Peace abound.

Anonymous

Third Version:

It is said that Christ left the sand dollar as a symbol to help the evangelists teach the faith. The five holes commemorate the five wounds of Christ, while at the center on one side blooms the Easter Lily, and at the lily's heart is the Star of Bethlehem. The Christmas poinsettia is etched on the other side, a reminder of Christ's birth. According to this legend, if you break the centre, five white doves will be released to spread goodwill and peace.

If you visit the Gulf Beaches then look out for the Sand Dollar – but you will have to be quick, as they soon get scooped up by eagle eyed beachcombers.

We aim to provide accurate and useful information, but if you feel anything provided here is not accurate or out of date, please email us with the address of the page concerned and any comments so we can amend as necessary.

Page added on: 26 October 2006
Viewed 42950 times since 1 September 2008.

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Sand Dollar

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