Sand dollar a giant, but a few cents shy a record

lpemberton@theolympian.comDecember 28, 2013 

A spot in Guinness World Records isn’t likely, but the giant sand dollar found on Puget Sound’s Eld Inlet near Olympia this summer is now being studied by scientists, according to beachcomber Eric Talaska.

About a month ago, he donated the mega-sized sand dollar — which measured about 4.7 inches across — to the California Academy of Sciences.

“They said it’s the largest they have ever seen amongst all they have examined, and is the largest in their vast collection,” Talaska said.

According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s website, that species of sand dollars usually live six to 10 years, and their average size is 3 inches across. The critters live in low intertidal zones from Alaska to Baja California.

The Guinness record for largest sand dollar is held by August Balicki, who found a sand dollar that measured 5.01 inches in diameter in Treasure Island, Fla. Talaska was hoping that his sand dollar would be a contender, since it was of a different species, Dendraster excentricus.

Turns out, it wasn’t.

“They don’t go by species,” he said.

Talaska recently moved to the Spokane area, where he’s finishing up a college degree and launching a website design and technology business. The next time he’s in California, Talaska said, he plans to take officials up on their offer of a VIP tour of the academy, which features an aquarium, a planetarium and a natural history museum.

Lisa Pemberton: 360-754-5433 lpemberton@theolympian.com @Lisa_Pemberton

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