Beachcombing: Enjoying Responsibly
By Trish Elliott
Beachcombing is an ancient pastime, because it can also be a time of reflection, a family gathering, and a way to connect with nature. Like birdwatching, beachcombing is a passive pastime, (almost always, at least) but there are treasures to be found, as well as an impetus to learn more about the discoveries and nature.
Below are some tips to make your experience more fruitful and interesting. It’s best to beachcomb offseason and in less traveled areas, as well as a time of year that has frequent storms, since those tides will bring in treasures from the bottom of the sea.
(1) The beach is usually cooler than inland, so bring layers. You will want to wear flipflops or bring hiking boots. Wear a zippered sweatshirt with lots of pockets. Felt-bottomed scuba boots also work well.
(2) Even during off season the sun is still shining and can burn you, so make sure you use SPF 50 sunscreen and wear a hat.
(3) Wear a watch or have your phone with the time.
(4) Bring a shovel or a grabber stick, or even a metal detector to you can ever so gently investigate crevices below the sand.
(5) Bring a camera. You will find moments and sights that you will cherish. Try to have your camera device on a neckstrap or a belt device, so you don’t lose it.
(6) Take along a small fieldbook so you can learn more about what you discover on your adventure.
(7) Take both a plastic and canvas bag, for the different kinds of treasures you will find.
(8) If you find living creatures, do not throw them back into the surf, but pace them gently into the water.
Many beachcombers seek sea glass, which has been smoothed and rounded by sand and time. Sea glass has become very desirable, and is more and more difficult to find. Keep your eyes peeled for the seaside colors: turquoise, blue, light green, and amber. If you find glass that is not “cured” yet, let it be, so that others may later discover it.
Below are some thoughts about collecting sea glass:
1. Only pick up nice pieces that are fully “frosted.” If a piece of glass is still sharp, or has recently been broken or chipped, throw it back to finish “cooking” so someone can enjoy finding it sometime in the future.
2. Allow other beach combers some personal space. There’s not going to be “more glass” on a particular patch of beach, just because someone else is looking, there.
3. Don’t use rakes, shovels and other tools. If it’s on the surface of the beach, pick it up. Otherwise, it’ll be there for a future beachcombing trip. Besides, metal tools will damage and chip the glass, defeating the entire purpose of beachcombing.
On a number of occasions, I’ve observed groups of 8-10 people (or more) come to our local beaches, all outfitted with coolers, rakes, shovels and sifters, and then go about systematically trying to dig their way through every square inch of beach, attempting to literally “harvest” every single piece of sea glass on the beach. Whereas this kind of exploit might be “inevitable,” it seems not very courteous to other beachcombers, and not very respectful of the general beach culture.
If you find you would like to know more about sea glass and beacombing, some good sources are “Sea Glass Hunter’s Handbook” by CS Lambert, “Gift from the Sea” by A. M. Lindbergh, and “Shelling and Beachcombing in the Carribean” by Gary Magnotte.
When you do partake of this adventure, make sure you fully take in the splendor of the sea and air, breathe deeply, and let nature enhance your treasure hunt.
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Source: Baret News Wire