There is a wonderful sandbar that forms from time to time around Siesta Key. You can walk out there and shuffle around sometimes ankle deep in the water.
One year we took off to the sandbar because there were so many people out there collecting something. To our surprise, we found an abundance of sand dollar tests on top of the sandbar. Whole, white sand dollars. So we collected some, too.
Over the years we have ended up with a lot of them and I now use them for crafting, making Christmas ornaments that I sell on my Etsy store, Crafty Beachcomber, or give as gifts. I’m working on some new ones now for this Christmas season.
White sand dollars are the remains of the dead critter. The test or skeleton. If you see a sand dollar of another color, typically green or blue, it is alive and should be left alone. One day, however, there was a person on the beach collecting green (live) sand dollars and setting them on the beach to dry out. Along came a lady who started throwing them back into the Gulf. Live sand dollars really shouldn’t be harvested. And throwing them back can be dangerous to the sand dollar. The impact of hitting the water could kill it so if you see someone drying out live sand dollars and feel they need to be put back, gently place them back into the water a distance out. They will find the strength to shuffle under the sand for protection.