The Star Sands of Okinawa

Chris Willson explains the dichotomy between the local legend and the scientists: “Hoshizuna is a small quiet beach, where visitors are normally crouched over the sand sorting through the grains. They are looking for minuscule five pointed stars little more than a millimeter across. To a biologist, each star is merely the exoskeleton of foraminifers — marine protozoa that once lived on the ocean floor. To the locals, they are the tiny offspring of the Southern Cross and the North Star. These children of the stars were born in the ocean just off Okinawa, but killed by a giant serpent. Their tiny skeletons are all that remains of the heavenly union.

When you see sand stars, you may be looking at some of the oldest fossils known to man. There is fossil evidence of them dating back 550 million years, and molecular evidence suggesting 800 million to 1.2 billion years. The best time to find some is after a typhoon when the raging ocean has washed them ups from its depths as the sea bottom lets loose some of its treasures. One reason they are so abundant on beaches in the Indo Pacific Oceanic area is that they prefer shallow waters, often combining with sea algae anchoring them – so you might find some living ones if you look very closely.

Ernst Haeckel (February 16, 1834 - August 9, 1919) - This drawing comes from his book 'Kunstformen der Natur' ('Artforms of Nature')

by The Punjapit Alliance

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