SEA URCHINS & SEA BISCUITS – BEACHCOMBING TREASURES ON ABACO
It’s time we had some more shells and other beach treasures on these pages. In the absence of star Abaco beachcomber and blog-contributor KASIA I have taken a closer look at the Delphi Club collection. This has been casually accumulated by the Club, its members and guests during the past 3 years whenever a good specimen has been encountered, and is displayed in the Great Room. The first items to catch my eye were the ECHINODERMS, a family that includes sea urchins, sand dollars, sea biscuits and star fish. Their sun-bleached tests are often found, though in my limited experience the larger they are, the rarer. The link above is to the Wiki-blurb, which has the unpromisingly daunting heading “This article may be too technical for most readers to understand…”. Now there’s a challenge!
First up is a very large SEA URCHIN, a thing of great delicacy and fragility that weighs next to nothing. I have never seen a bigger one. Looking at the fine detail, it is hard to believe that such perfection of symmetry and intricacy can exist in a creature so very painful to tread on.
This SEA URCHIN is smaller, with more prominent nodules and a much more random pattern – reminiscent of a cartoon of some distant white planet. It has cast a fine knobbly shadow.
SEA BISCUITS have similar five-way symmetry to their first cousins SAND DOLLARS but are generally pebble-shaped rather than disc-shaped. I have included 2 close-ups to show the fine details of the pattern – almost like lace-work
This SEA BISCUIT is a different type, with the 5 radials reaching right round it. For some reason it only has 4 and not 5 small holes (as one might expect) at the centre. Unlike SAND DOLLARS they tend to be more oblong than round.
We found very small sea biscuits that had washed up on Panama City Beach Florida this winter in December. They were very fragile but we managed to get home with a dozen or so. This is the first time we have experienced this in my 57 years in Panama City. It is always fun to discover new beach life, or in this case after life. Thank you for your interesting site. S.
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Hi Susan, thanks for your comment. I checked out PC Beach online and find that there is a Sea Biscuit Cafe (and a ditto holiday rental) so they cannot be unknown in the area! But maybe they have become increasingly rare, for the usual reasons. I wonder if it is good for shells? At least you have some small biscuits to treasure. RH (PS enjoyed the ‘after life’ bit!)
I also found many little sea biscuits on Panama City Beach in early spring of 2016 . They are about as big as a quarter and so interesting! They were blowing around in the sand . I had to look them up to be sure of what they are . So very fragile as only made it home with 2 out of 4 or so .
Thanks for calling in at Rolling Harbour. Interesting finds – I’m glad a couple survived. I’ve never seen them that small – but maybe it’s just that I’ve never actually noticed them! RH
how long do sea biscuits live
Probably a max of about 10 – 12 years I believe. Many will be washed up on the tide long before then or simply eaten of course. Apparently it is possible to date biscuits and dollars by close examination of growth rings. RH
Gorgeous finds and fotos!
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