It’s prime time for sand dollars on Sanibel as mating season peaks

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Millions of sand dollars are in the water at Sanibel beaches, but why are there so many right now?

Cocoa Beach resident and Sanibel tourist, Sam said “It’s really cool because there are so many and they are all over the place.” It’s a sight he said is best seen through a pair of goggles. “There’s been pockets full. Everywhere I go, I just see sand dollars covering the bottom.”

But even if you don’t go underwater, you’ll easily notice the sand dollars sitting right off shore from many popular beach spots on the island.

Paige Martino said shae has collected several dead sand dollars over the years, but now she says they aren’t as rare, “I remember when I was little, we used to talk about finding them and being excited, but now there’s so many.”

Executive Director of the Sanibel Sea School, Bruce Neill, and members of his team at the at the school go out every month to hand count sand dollars.

After their most recent count wednesday, Neill estimates more than ten million surround the island.

Neill said “During the summer time they come up, they come up high, to the top of the sand and so we see a lot of sand dollars out here.” adding that it’s all part of their natural cycle.

The summer is their prime time for mating, which will kick off with the next full moon in about two weeks.

It’s important to note that it’s illegal to remove live sand dollars from the water.

Beachgoer Paige Martino said, “When they are alive you can tell, because when you pick them up you can see they’re like prickly. And when they are dead you can hold them up to the light and so you’ll know which ones to pick out and which ones to keep alive.”

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