Sand Dollar Doves

Sand dollar is the BirthElement for the month of June

Read more about Sand Dollar Symbolism

What are Sand Dollar Doves? 

Have you ever been walking down the beach and been lucky enough to find a sand dollar

If you did, was it intact? Did you notice that if you gently shook it it rattled a bit? Maybe you were even tempted to crack your sand dollar open, wondering what was inside? 

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If you have ever cracked a sand dollar open, you'll know that inside the shell there are these perfectly formed little fragments that look exactly like tiny little doves. These are known as Sand Dollar Doves

But sand dollar doves are not actual doves, obviously. SO what are the tiny doves inside of sand dollar shells? They're part of the structure of the inside of the shell. Can you guess what the little doves inside of a sand dollar are for? 

When the creature we know as a sand dollar is alive, these little doves are actually its version of teeth. Sand dollars have five sections of their bodies and each one has one of these “teeth” which they use to gnash up, grind and chew its food. 

A sand dollar body is divided up into 5 parts, in each of these sections, is one of these teeth which is what allows it to grind up and consume its food. When a sand dollar comes to the end of its natural lifecycle, and the creature inside dies and it dries up, those little teeth that were inside become detached and float around inside the shell. When you break open a sand dollar shell, you will find these teensy little dove shaped things. And that is what these little white dove like things are inside sand dollar shells, that so many people call sand dollar doves! 

The mouth of the sand dollar and other sea urchins is often called Aristotle's lantern. And this was because Aristotle, who was a Greek philosopher, believed that it resembled one of his lanterns. It is this opening that actually makes up the home for the little teeth like calcium plates that make up what we know of as the sand dollar doves - there are five little V shaped pieces or bird shaped pieces that are released when the creature dies - thus each empty sand dollar shell should actually have five sand dollar doves inside!

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How can you tell if a sand dollar is still alive (and if it contains sand dollar doves?) 

The shell of a sand dollar is called a test. It is important to make sure that you know if a test contains a living creature. In other words if the you must determine if a sand dollar is alive or dead before you break it open in search of those tiny white sand dollar doves. When you find a sand dollar on a beach, you must to make sure that it's not alive anymore. And then you can decide whether or not you actually want to open it. 

Is it ok to take a Sand Dollar Shell or Sand Dollar Doves from the beach? 

Sand Dollar shells or (sand dollar tests) that no longer have a living creature inside them have no little spines on them anymore and are usually gray or white, this is because they have been bleached by the sun. It is very important that you make sure that there is not a living creature inside the shell before you consider removing a sand dollar shell from the beach.  

Another clue that the sand dollar shell you have found is no longer alive is if you hear a small rattle when you gently shake it. What's rattling around inside the sand dollar is actually the remains of its eating apparatus or teeth (the doves!). When a sand dollar is alive, they use these teeth to grind up, and pulverize their food (spoiler alert: these teeth are the sand dollar doves we are talking about!) 

When a sand dollar dies,  what had been their body dries up and these “teeth” (the doves) just kind of rattle around inside the shell. So if you have a sand dollar standing in your windowsill give it a little shake and see if you hear those little sand dollars. Now you have to decide if you want to break open your beautiful sand dollar shell!

Did you know that sand dollars used to be sea urchins? 

A long, long, long time ago, there were sea urchins that sort of branched off on their own. These sea urchins decided to stay up on top of the rocks while the other ones buried themselves into the sand. Over time, the pressure of the sea floor caused the exoskeleton of the sea urchin to flatten and flatten and flatten and flatten. And eventually they became what we know as sand dollars today. When a sand dollar is alive, it has all of these little velvety spines all over it. It uses these to navigate the rocks and sand in its underwater home. Underneath thse spines are a very beautiful smooth casing, what we think of when we think of a sand dollar shell. 

What does it mean to dream of a sand dollar? 

When you dream of a sand dollar, it can often mean to be careful about what's going on around you. It can mean to really learn to value your own passion, and help you to pay more attention to how you're approaching your own ideas that come from your inspiration and your  inner being. Dreaming of a sand dollar can often be an indicator that you have a hidden gift that has been with you probably all your life, but that you're only just discovering, and it could mean that you're about to discover one of your own hidden gifts that's been with you all along. It is often connected to secret abilities, and the freedom that tapping into these secret abilities can give us. 

What is the spiritual significance of Sand Dollars and Sand Dollar Doves? 

Spiritually, sand dollars are really significant. 

For many, many years, people have connected sand dollars with peace, freedom, and love in part because of these little doves inside a sand dollar shell! There's all kinds of symbolism connected to sand dollars because of these little doves. And they really do sort of take on a magical quality. It's really difficult when you find a sand dollar on the beach, the temptation is to just keep it forever, and put it in your windowsill. But it's important to to learn a little bit about sand dollars before you go ahead and do this. When a sand dollar is still alive there may not be very many outward signs of life in a sand dollar - they may look just like shells. And so it's important to know what to look for. When you find a sand dollar, if it's dark grey or dark purple, and it has little spines on it, then that means that sand dollar is alive and you should put it back on the beach or in the water where you found it. It's only okay to take a sand dollar from a beach (as long as local regulations allow it)  if it's clear that there are no spines attached to the outside of the shell, and that it has been bleached by the sun and it turned in white.  You can only ne certain that a sand dollars is not alive if it is white and sun bleached. And it's really, really, really important to make sure that you're not removing a live living sand dollar from any beach anywhere. 

IS it ok to make sand dollars into jewelry? 

If you would like to know how to make sand dollars into necklaces or earrings click here for our how to make sanddollar jewelry!

How to get the sand dollar doves out of a sand dollar shell

If you're lucky enough to find a sand dollar and you bring it home and you have it in your windowsill for a little while and it's just tempting you so much you really want to know what's inside. All you have to do is get out a little paper towel or plate and gently snap the sand dollar in half. It doesn't matter how precise you are about this, because what's inside the shell is going to just fall out onto your plate. But the little sand dollar doves inside are so tiny that you don't want to lose them. So that's why it's good to do it over a plate. So break them open. And there should be anywhere between three and five little sand dollar doves inside the shell. You'll probably want to discard your sand dollar SHELL once you've finished. But you can examine and keep these tiny little doves, they're so perfect and small. And they really just sort of make you wonder, you know the magic of nature, how incredible it is that nature can create all of these beautiful things for us. 

These little sand dollar doves symbolizes peace and unity and friendship and freedom. Sand dollars themselves have a lot of symbolism, too.