Star Sands: Okinawa’s Incredibly Shaped Living Fossils

Star Sand from JapanPhoto: Renee Janssen

Star sands, the minute wonders of nature found on beaches and in the sands of Indo-Pacific waters are protozoa that belong to the Foraminifera family. What made these earthly stars and how did they appear, though? Herelin lies a wonderful story that spars with modern biology.

Star SandPhoto: Chris Willson

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.” I prefer to believe in the wonder of the legend and the powerful romance between the stars, at least when I allow my scientific side to rest.”

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT