Some people have asserted that sand dollar populations are on the decline exactly due to the reason you cited. Most people do NOT know that sand dollars are in fact living organisms. People don’t see them moving, so they pick them up and toss them into their bucket. There is goes. Many children will do the same thing and since people don’t know they are alive, they can’t teach their children to leave them be. Some organizations, like the Tybee Marine Science Center, are taking the initiative to post signs informing people to leave the sand dollars alone. No major governmental announcement has been made or action taken.
While sand dollar populations have never been dangerously low, there are issues in several areas of the world with live sand dollars being collected by thoughtless tourists. Since, like sea urchins, sand dollars move very slowly and don’t appear to be moving at all to a tourist who knows nothing of the local marine life, they are picked up as a fun beach souvenirs. Action against this has been taken in a couple places (such as Tybee Island, article below), but it seems that there is little to no danger of endangerment or extinction.
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