Whatever happened to...? Giant sand dollar found near Olympia donated to natural science academy

lpemberton@theolympian.comDecember 27, 2013 

Standing on the Eld Inlet beach August 20th where he found it Eric Talaska holds what he feels is one of the largest sand dollars of its species at 4.7 inches in diameter, the Dendraster excentricus.

STEVE BLOOM — Staff photographer

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 beach comber 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. 

“Upon receiving it, 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. “They will do further studies on it and it is a big asset to them.” 

According to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Web site, 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, Calif.

Even though Guinness already has a record-holder for largest sand dollar, 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 Dendraster excentricus sand dollar would be a contender since it was a different species.  

Turns out, it wasn’t.  

“They don’t go by species,” he said.  

Talaska recently moved to Spokane area where he’s finishing up a college degree and launching a Web site design and technology business.   

And the next time he’s in California, Talaska said he plans to take officials up on their offer of a VIP tour of 412,000-square-foot 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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