13 Feb 2013

In search of a Sand Dollar, Identifying Seashells (Learning.)

Two years ago, while picking shells by the peaceful beach of Sematan, I found a beautiful Sand Dollar. I held it gently in my palm, charmed by its delicate beauty. Then while picking another shell up, a strong wave came and swept the contents of my hands away, including the beautiful sand dollar. I tried to search in vain, but it was nowhere to be found.  I scoured the beach for another but found none.

Two years passed, and Jo, while reading a book of mermaids, told me that in the mermaid realm,  sand dollars were precious for they provided magical wishes. (Of course, she knows this is fantasy. ) So this year to Kuching, we made a visit to Sematan again. Our goal was to look for a Sand Dollar. The girls prayed we'd find some, and that the clouds that threatened to rain would hold back.
 My precious family, helping me look for Sand Dollars, which incidentally, the Chinese call "Lui" meaning money too.

My dear husband, helping me look for shells. :)

Both their prayers came through. At first we only found broken Sand Dollars. We continued our search, and after picking an assortment of shells, we finally found one, small, but totally complete and beautiful. :)

Coming home, we researched on Sand Dollars and found this lovely website with information.  Lo and behold, it has finally dawned on me, that the Sand Dollar is actually a living thing, from  the starfish family! :)  What we found were the skeletons. Below is a video (found online) of a Sand Dollar moving. (Time lapse.) (Do read link above to find out more if you're interested. Both my girls and I found the information fascinating.)


We learnt that it takes patience to find something you really want. As we spent  time, walking slowly across the beach looking for Sand Dollars, we came across so many beautiful and unique shells. We read that shells are living things and will grow in size. So we made sure

-not to step on baby shells,
-and to collect only shells that had been washed ashore by the waves, which were sun dried and uninhabited.

Upon coming home, we looked through this book we got at the library, Tropical Seashells of Malaysia, and through the web to identify the shells we found. Both Nel and Jo helped sort the shells and we found some of the names. Not all were found in the book, and we'll have to look online.

Below are some of the shells we've labeled so far,

We really enjoyed the process of separating the shells by shapes and colours and searching for names.

Some shells we've not identified yet.


We also read the bookJunonia by Kevin Henkes, a book about the feelings and thoughts of a 10 year old girl, and her determination in finding that perfect Junonia Shell.

We've just found shells fascinating, and we've learned how important it is to thread carefully so as not to destroy live shells. But mostly we've discovered how unique and beautiful are God's creations. :)

UPDATE: We've learnt from a trip to Merambong  that it's not good to pick seashells. Seashells should be left so they can release calcium carbonate back into the ocean for other shells.

@poundthegarlic.blogspot.com 2013



gail said...

Always the teacher! I found this fascinating and will look at the site about the sand dollars. I like them, too - the skeletons, that is.

Divoo said...

another activity, wow! totally love hat sand dollar! i wish i find one some day! i too had collected a couple of shells when i was young, most of them look liked the ones you've not identified yet. :)

AJD said...

Great post! I remember finding sand dollars on the North Carolina coast. They were easy to find, but I never saw a white one. They were always brown and hairy. Also used to find sharks teeth. I later found put that those black teeth I'd been so nonchalantly collecting were prehistoric!

Mini Mocha said...

Wow what a beautiful shell. We love collecting shells also, it is such a peaceful activity to do together. we used to make pictures in the sand using them, must do that again. You have such lovely shells in your area also.

Martha said...

hi G, yes, the teacher for now. :) Actually, not really...really I'm being the student who's sharing knowledge with my children. :)

@Div- Hi Div, I'm sure you'll fiind much more beautful sand dollars where you are, take photos if you do.

@AJD, I'd be SOOO excited if I got to see a live one. The white one is really just the skeleton. They are getting rare here coz of polution and random picking.

@Mocha: Shells are beautiful. We've not made patterns in the sand with them. we should give it a try. :) Thanks for the idea.

marie said...

My kids loved collecting seashells when we go to the beach. Now I am going to follow your lead and make a cute collage with labels, just take it a step further :)

Martha said...

A collage would be a really cool idea!

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