Screaming, she shot up from her tanning chair and threw the object away from them. Squirmish, she shook her hands and raced over to her son.
She had no idea what they were holding. Her eyes scoured over his hands. There were no marks but was this mysterious object dangerous? She screams out for help.
It was just another activities-planned weekend for Californian mom-of-four, Jessica Hunt. Since they lived a short drive from the beach, she made it her mission to bring the kids out to play outside in the water and sand as often as she could.
She hated seeing them sitting inside, looking at screens all day. But today, that would have been the better option.
It was mayhem as usual as Jessica got her kids ready and packed for a day at the beach. With a military husband, Jessica had gotten used to parenting alone, but that didn’t mean it got easier.
She would often doubt herself, or blame herself for not being more observant if her kids got into any trouble. It was a stressful job at the best of times, but it would be especially stressful today.
After a quick 30-minute drive, she led her kids to a quiet area of the beach where they could run around and explore without worrying about disturbing the other beach goers.
Jessica set up base and a tanning chair for herself as the kids shot off towards the water. She relaxed into her chair, smiling after her kids who looked as playful as ever. But this playfulness would lead one of them to a frightening discovery.
The first hour passed as it normally would on beach days; Jessica would lounge around trying to keep a watchful eye over her children as they explored the shallow waters and seashells and stones washed up on the shore.
So it was no surprise that after her son found something ‘cool’, he raced up to show her.
“Mom, look!”, he says as he holds a stone in his hand. Jessica had seen so many of these great discoveries that she would now be able to give any award-winning actress a run for their money.
“Wow, honey! Awesome Job, that looks so cool!”, she exclaims as she briefly glances over the object in his hands. “What is it?”, he asked.
Assuming it’s some kind of common stone or shell, Jessica tells him that she thinks he’s found a rare treasure! But what Jessica didn’t understand, was that although it wasn’t a treasure, he really did find something very rare.
He stood there, staring at the rarity within his hands. Jessica watched through the rays of the sun as his face turned from confusion to awe. But then, his brows knitted together in a sure warning of what was to come.
“I don’t think it likes me”, he said as he adjusted his grasp on the ‘stone’. Amused, Jessica laughs, sits up, and picks the stone from her sons’ hands.
She puts it up to her ear and tells him that the stone said that he’s wrong and that the stone likes him very much. As her son smiled, she suddenly noticed a strange feeling in her hand. She looked down at the ‘stone’. To her horror, she realized it was moving.
Screaming, she shot up and threw the object away from them. She had no idea what they had been holding. In all the times she’s gone to the beach, she never saw anything like that.
Her first thought was to check her son’s hands. Was this mysterious object or creature poisonous? She immediately calls out for help.
The lifeguard nearby heard her calls for help and immediately ran towards her. She points to the object lying in the sand and explains what had happened.
She reassures the lifeguard that she doesn’t see any visible marks on her hands or her sons hands but she’s worried that it might be poisonous – it certainly didn’t look like the friendliest sea creature.
The lifeguard checks their hands and walks over to the mysterious object lying still in the sand. She bent down, flipped it over, and then stood back in amazement!
Jessica listened in shock as the lifeguard explained to her what her son had found and why she would have never recognized it. So, what was it?
What her son found was a sand dollar. But what made this one so different was the fact that it was still alive!
Usually sand dollars are pale, white and dried-out once the reach the shore. That’s why many people don’t know that sand dollars are actually living organisms. And finding them alive is as rare as finding diamonds!
Very few people know what a live sand dollar truly looks like, but luckily for Jessica and her son, the lifeguard that raced to her aid knew exactly what they were looking at.
Now, there was just one question for Jessica to ask, “Is it dangerous?”. The lifeguard reassured her that sand dollars, alive or otherwise, are completely harmless. But how can it move?
Underneath its shiny, slippery, wet-stone-looking surface, is a thousands of tiny feelers that move and help it glide along the oceans bed’s of it’s natural habitat.
As to why the sand dollar ended up ashore when it was still alive is a mystery. The lifeguard speculated that it most likely was cast adrift due to a strong current that left it beached.
With a renewed sense of compassion for the strange little creature, Jessica picked it up and walked to the sea front with her son. She gave it to him to help put it back where it belonged.
Her son walked out into the water and happily released the dollar sand back into the ocean so it could continue to thrive as an important part of our ecosystem!