William Blake, poet of the 1700s and 1800s wrote a poem about seeing a world in a grain of sand. I wonder what how much more inspired he would have been about that world if he had seen star shaped sand.
The Enchanting Star Shaped Sand Of Okinawa
If you ever visit Okinawa, you’ll need to go and check out Irimote. It is the second-largest island in Okinawa and features what’s known as Okinawa star sand.
The beach of interest is called Hoshizuna-No-Hama. On first glance, it doesn’t look very different from the other beaches in the area. However, when you get closer, and you inspect the sand, you’ll see that many of them are stars.
Yes, that’s right. They are star shaped sand. Many of the grains have either a five or a six-tipped star shape.
Because of this, the sand has become a hot commodity. In fact, some people come to Hoshizuna-no-Hama specifically to hunt for the star-shaped sand. The local authorities have had to forbid people from taking the sand home with them. It’s hard to enforce because it’s so small, but they’re doing the best they can to conserve the beach.
What Makes The Sand Star Shaped?
The sand is star shaped because technically it’s actually not sand. Hoshizuna-no-Hama is partly made up of billions of exoskeletons. When you look closer, you can see that the remains of these foraminifers outer shells are shaped like stars. Foraminifers are marine protozoa that thrive on the ocean floor. Their shell is made of calcium carbonate, and they tend to remain behind after they die. Then, they are constantly washed ashore by the ocean, and delivered onto this very special beach.
The ‘sand’ measures only a few millimetres in size. In fact, this makes the star shaped sand really hard to notice at first. If you visit this beach, the sand will of course stick to your feet and your hands. Once this happens,you can see that they are not shaped like your average sand particles.
While we know that the “sand” is actually foraminifer exoskeletons, there is still a local legend which claims that the sand grains are the tiny offspring of the Southern Cross and the North Star. Legend has it that they were born in the ocean just off of Okinawa, but were killed soon after by a giant serpent. Their small skeletons are the only thing left from this union.
How To Visit A Star-Shaped Sand Beach
The internet and influencers on social media have skyrocketed the popularity of Hoshizuna-no-Hama beach. However, this has proven to be both a blessing and a curse. Despite the obvious benefits to the economy, local business, and the wellbeing of the people who visit, the star shaped sand is disappearing.
The ocean cannot seem to keep up with all the visitors who are taking the sand home for their own keeping. It’s very sad, as this beach is such a magical place once you know what is there in place of actual sand. The people who are taking this for themselves are the ones who are preventing others from experiencing this incredible phenomenon.
Hoshizuna-no-Hama is Okinawa’s most famous star sand beach, but it’s not the only one. If you want to visit this star shaped sand beach in particular, you can check out this article to learn how.
Only a few places in the whole world are known to feature this curious phenomenon. If you get to go, please remember to take only pictures and leave only footprints!