Sand dollar found near Olympia could be record size

Olympia man hopes Guinness will recognize it as largest of its species at 4.7 inches in diameter

Staff writerAugust 21, 2013 

Eric Talaska enjoys beachcombing at low tide, and last week he found a treasure on Puget Sound’s Eld Inlet near Olympia: A sand dollar he believes could take over a world record.

“It was all by itself,” said Talaska, 44, of Olympia. “It was on top of all of these rocks.”

According to the Guinness World Records, August Balicki set the record for the largest sand dollar in 2011. It was found in Treasure Island, Fla., and measured 5.01 inches in diameter.

Talaska’s sand dollar is about 4.7 inches across, but it’s a different species than the record holder.

He said he hopes to get it appraised by a marine biologist and published in Guinness World Records as the biggest sand dollar of the Dendraster excentricus species.

“It doesn’t look that remarkable, but it actually is,” Talaska said. “It’s extremely brittle, and lightweight. It’s like handling a big wafer or cookie.”

According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s website, Dendraster excentricus sand dollars usually live six to 10 years and their average size is 3 inches across. They live in low intertidal zones from Alaska to Baja, Calif.

Talaska recently moved to Olympia to study at The Evergreen State College, but for now he’s taking Web design and e-commerce classes online through Peninsula College.

He said the sand dollar isn’t the first rarity that he’s found. He grew up in Arkansas near a diamond mine. Talaska said he and his buddies once “co-found” a natural diamond.

“But I didn’t get to keep it,” he said.

Talaska said if he can get the sand dollar listed as a world record, then he’d like to see it go to a museum or “wherever it would be most educational to society.” For now, it sits in his home alongside a collection of beach glass, moon snail shells and other much smaller sand dollars.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433

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