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A fistful of dollar: 11-year-old vacationer finds sand dollar of possible record size at Florida beach

Savannah Evanoff
Winter Haven News Chief

Syler Elliott has had a wonderful family vacation in Destin.

The 11-year-old has devoured delicious food, experienced the alligators at Fudpucker’s Beachside Bar & Grill, shopped at Alvin’s Island and hunted for seashells among the white sand beaches. The highlight of his trip, though, was discovering what the family hopes is a record-breaking sized sand dollar, measuring at about 6 inches.

The largest sand dollar on record measures 5.826 inches at its smallest diameter and 6.299 inches at its largest, according to Guinness World Records.

“I thought it was just gonna be a little thing,” Elliott said. “I feel so happy and excited about it.”

The sand dollar is currently being kept in a special box to present to Guinness World Records.

Elliott came with his family from Newark, Ohio, and has been in Destin since Saturday. They vacation in Destin every year to meet with his aunts, uncles and cousins for a large family gathering.

He stumbled upon the sand dollar Monday afternoon while on a boat ride with his father and uncle. He took a 12- to 15-foot free dive to retrieve it.

“My dad said he saw a little spot of it and he told me to go dive after it,” Elliott said. “I tried to grab it but it wouldn’t come up. We thought it was a sting ray.”

Elliott’s grandfather, Ben Rodgers, shared in their excitement over the found treasure.

“I think it’s just an amazing thing for a young man at 11 to find a potential world record sand dollar that he will never in the rest of his life, forget,” Rodgers said. “I know in my 64 years, I’ve never seen one that big. It’s just an amazing find for him. He’s such an adventures guy. He’s a very outgoing athlete – plays football, baseball basketball, loves to dive. All of our grandkids are outdoors oriented.”

Because sand dollars are a living animal, Rodgers was first concerned about its safety.

“Then when we realized it wasn’t alive, we were happy about that,” Rodgers said. “We’ve traveled into the Caribbean, the Caymans, swam with dolphins, string rays, but this is probably the best adventure we’ve had.”

Rodgers thinks even if the sand dollar doesn’t set a world record, it will set the state record.

“It’s definitely gonna be a new Florida record, which we think is really cool,” Rodgers said. “A kid from Ohio finds a Florida record sand dollar. Plus, being 11, he’s not a professional diver; he just loves the outdoors. It’s a whole series of neat experiences for us.”

This story originally published to nwfdailynews.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.