Star Sand

Just when you thought you knew about the world …

Photo by Geomr via Wikimedia Commons

Look closely.

That’s star-shaped sand, my friend.

Look a little closer, and you can see its splendid starry points:

Photo by Okinawa Soba (Rob) via Flickr

Okay, scientifically speaking, these little lovelies aren’t actually sand. They are the tiny, empty shells of ocean protozoa called Baclogypsina sphaerulata.

Say that three times (or even once).

When the micro-creatures die, their exoskeletons are washed ashore amid grains of actual sand on only a handful of beaches on earth, and they’re all in the vicinity of Okinawa, Japan.

According to legend from Okinawa’s Iriomote Island, the “sand” stars are Hoshizuna, the fallen sky children of the North Star and the Southern Cross. Long ago, the tiny stars sprinkled into the sea of Okinawa, where they were killed by a sea serpent and continue to wash ashore as miraculous star-shaped particles of “sand.”




  1. Winnie Nielsen says:

    Another beautiful gift from the ocean. These stars are so delicate and perfect.

  2. What a sweet story to back up a scientific phenomena.

  3. Karlyne says:

    I love it!

  4. Jeri-Lyn Walsh says:

    That’s so cool! Love the Japanese legend.

  5. Kate says:

    God’s wonderful creation.

  6. CJ Armstrong says:

    Beautiful! I love to walk beaches and pick up shells, but I also am interested in the sand. I live in Colorado . . .there are no beaches here. But I’ve walked beaches of the Pacific, Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, North Sea and Irish Sea. I’ve managed to have little film containers (remember 35 mm camera film?) to collect samples to bring home. One of the most fascinated beaches was on Maui on the east side where the sand was black sand from the volcano.
    Very interesting, indeed!

  7. Krista says:

    How cute and tiny! Our oceans contain such wondrous creatures. It amazes me that those tiny shells stay intact all the way to the shore. I would love to see some of this star shaped sand.

  8. Bonnie ellis says:

    Absolutely fascinating! It makes me remember to look at all things more closely.

  9. Brenda Wheeler says:

    Wow! Just wonderful to see and read about. So tiny and beautiful!

  10. Ellen Osborn says:

    When my husband was serving in the US Marine Corps we lived on Okinawa for 3 years with our two young kids. We practically lived on the beach. One day we were in a shop and there was an aquarium filled with sand and a magnifying glass was attached to it. We didn’t know about star sand until then. We kept peering in trying to see some little critter. Then we learned it was the sand!

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