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The hobby of beachcombing -- tips and tricks


The hobby of beachcombing -- tips and tricks

What is beachcombing?

Beachcombing is the act of searching the shoreline for anything of value or interest to the searcher (commonly termed "the beachcomber").

While beachcombers tend to collect anything that isn't nailed down, many beachcombers will specialize in a particular type of find. These finds generally consist of marine debris such as:

Sometimes however everything found may be actual trash. If you find trash, have a bag ready to dispose of it.

Tip: A metal detector can also be used to find metal objects such as coins, aluminum pull tabs, and jewelry which may be buried in the sand. Set the discrimination to "low" to avoid missing out on a great find such as a gold ring.

Beachcombing is a great way to get some fresh air, exercise, and sun. We can all use more of that!

Beachcombers in general are good stewards of the sea who have a vested interest in sea conservation. They hold the environment in great respect, and will work with officials to monitor favoured beaches for any issues such as erosion or pollution which may arise.

The basic rules of beachcombing

Where to go beachcombing

Start at your favourite local beach. The best time to search is at low tide if you want to largest area of beach available. Determine where the high tide line is to set that as the outermost point of your search.

When to go beachcombing

Hobby beachcombers watch the weather and ocean currents to predict the appearance of a rare find at their preferred location(s). A wild storm can and will cause finds to end up much higher on the beach than usual.

Beachcombing gear

Before setting forth on your first collecting expedition, I would recommend acquiring the following gear:

Displaying your finds

Once collected, any finds will be cleaned prior to display if both needed and appropriate for the find. Collectors often enjoy researching the likely origins of their finds.

If it isn't enough to merely display finds as-is, there is also the option of upcycling them into a craft project:

Further reading

You might also enjoy these books:

Beachcombing the Pacific Beachcombing the Pacific by Amos L. Wood (Schiffer Publishing, 1997): While many of the tips in this guide are specific to the Pacific Coast, this book is helpful in giving a sense of the types of things likely to be found while beachcombing such as sea beans, glass floats, and driftwood. There are also excellent practical tips for both gear, safety, and group size when going out.   Florida's living beaches Florida's Living Beaches: A Guide for the Curious Beachcomber by Blair and Dawn Witherington (Pineapple Press, 2007): An all-around excellent guide to the things one might encounter while beachcombing in Florida. This includes beach features, living creatures, sea shells, and other "beach finds" such as sea glass and sea beans. Each entry includes "about" info, a fun fact, and a colour photo for ease of identification.
Flotsametrics and the Floating World Flotsametrics and the Floating World by Curtis Ebbesmeyer & Eric Scigliano (Harper, 2010): A fascinating study of ocean currents and their influence on which drifting items end up on which beaches. A must-read for serious beachcombers.    

These books can be difficult to find since many are out of print. Some great places to buy used books online include:

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