How to tell whether a sand dollar is alive?

Discussion in 'Marine Life and Ecosystems' started by Moose016, Nov 13, 2006.

  1. Moose016

    Moose016 Nassau Grouper

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    I was diving this weekend on a site with some sand dollars that I was picking up and I couldn't tell whether most of them were dead or alive. The ones with extra holes I assumed were dead, but does anyone know you tell whether one of these things is alive? Stuff sticking out of the bottom?

    Thanks
     
  2. MSilvia

    MSilvia Great White

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    If it's white, and looks like bleached bone, it's dead. If it is colorful, or has little hairlike spines all over it so it looks covered with fuzz, it's alive.

    Alive: [​IMG]

    Dead: [​IMG]
     
  3. mike_s

    mike_s Blue Whale

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    I've been told that the ones that are dead don't have any "hair" on them. (The hair falls off when they die.). If this is true, then if you pick up ones w/o hair then you are ok. To suppor this, all the ones that are broken in half don't have any 'hair' or fuzz on them.

    If this is incorrect, someone please let us know.


    EDIT: Msilvia and I posted at the same time, but I have a comment on his post. I've seen many of them that are not bleached white that are dead and broken in half. They didn't have any hair on them but they were definately not very white like a bleached bone. Can they survive if broken in half?

    2nd Edit: Ok.... from the edited post above that MSivla put pics on, I can cleary see the color difference he meant. The non-white ones I was talking about were more of an "off white" and not yet all the way bleached out. thanks for the verfiication MSilvia.
     
  4. Moose016

    Moose016 Nassau Grouper

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    Thanks for making that clear, mine aren't quite white, but they are tan and there is no hair on them. I broke one apart on accident and it sure didn't seem alive. Are the lives ones always black like that?

    I guess these are dead.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. rjack321

    rjack321 SoCal DIR

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    The fuzz is their skin. Blacks spots are just decayed parts of a dead one or bacteria growing on the remnants. If it looks like bone its dead. Fuzz or any real coloring = alive.

    We have purple ones up here in the PNW, very cool :)
     
  6. REII

    REII Manta Ray

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    Also, the fuzz on the underside will be moving if they are still alive.

    TOM
     
  7. CBulla

    CBulla ~..facebook conch..~ ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Yeah.. they're dead. :)

     
  8. Carribeandiver

    Carribeandiver Deep South DIR

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    easy,,follow the rule,, DO NOT TOUCH THE WILDLIFE and hope the wildlife doesnt touch you. Admire, enjoy, be in awe of, but do not mess with it.
     
  9. MSilvia

    MSilvia Great White

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    Those sand dollars in the picture are dead Moose013.
     
  10. MSilvia

    MSilvia Great White

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Cohasset, Massachusetts USA
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    What a helpful response. Next time I'm trying to figure out if a sand dollar is alive, I'll apply the old "DON'T TOUCH IT" rule, and all will be made clear.

    In all seriousness though, please don't molest the live ones. The dead ones probably don't mind.
     
  11. Moose016

    Moose016 Nassau Grouper

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    Thanks, I think I can tell now. I'll be sure I'm only grabbing the dead ones, thats what I was concerned about to begin with. I don't have much time to waste at 110ft. waiting to see if they move.
     
  12. Mr.X

    Mr.X Surface Interval Member

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    I also remember the lives ones were in a feeding position at an angle to the bottom.
    http://www.mbayaq.org/efc/living_species/print.asp?inhab=143
    Partially in, partially out out of the bottom and definitely covered in hairs. Saw a colony once near Monastery Beach in Monterey. Looked like purple vanilla wafers stuck in pound cake...maybe I can use this treat (sand dollar surprise cake) in my imagined restaurant? Someday, sniff. :crying2:

    X
     
  13. spectrum

    spectrum Dive Bum Wannabe ScubaBoard Supporter

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    If you are real lucky you can actually spot the tracks in the sad that show where they were "walking".

    If you want to collect them go to the shore after a big storm.

    Pete
     

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