Name: Eccentric Sand Dollar (Dendraster excentricus)
Other names: sea-cake, biscuit-urchin, western sand dollar, or Pacific sand dollar
Description: A species of flattened, burrowing sea urchins. Colored gray, brown, black or shades of purple. Their size is variable, averaging 76 mm with the world's largest found measuring 120 mm wide. They have a dome shaped carapace varying in height to about 10 mm with a circular body or test. Their body is covered with fine, spiny tube-like feet with cilia, and like other echinoderms they have five-fold radial symmetry. The mouth, anus, and food grooves are on the lower (oral) surface and the aboral surface has a petalidium, or petal shaped structure, with tube feet. Dead individuals have a gray/white test, or skeleton, which is often found washed up on beaches.
Habitat: They are either found subtidally in bays or open coastal areas or in the low intertidal zone on sandy on the Northeast Pacific coast. It can live at a depth of 40 to 90 meters, but usually is found in more shallow areas.
Diet: Feeds on crustacean larvae, small copepods, diatoms, plankton, and detritus.
Reproduction: Sexes are separate, with no noticeable differences in external features of the two sexes. Reproduction is sexual and D. excentricus reaches sexual maturity between 1 and 4 years of age, spawning in late spring and early summer. Fertilization is external, the female Dendraster discharges the eggs through her gonopores and they are fertilized by the male, who protrudes his genital papilla from his body wall. This is one reason they are believed to live in large groups and tend to release gametes at the same time into the water column. Eggs are pale orange, and are covered by a thick jelly coat which keeps adults from eating the eggs.