Beachcombing is a combination of the word ‘beach’, from the Proto-Germanic word ‘bakiz’ meaning ‘loose pebbles of the seashore’, and ‘comb’, from the Old English word ‘cemban’ meaning ‘examine closely’. In English, the combined word beachcombing first appeared around 1840.
Beachcombing is simply the art of hunting the coastline for things of value, interest or usefulness.
Though you can beachcomb any time of year the autumn is particularly good - as the beaches are a little quieter, while the stormier weather out in the ocean will mean a few more treasures will wash up.
Here are ten things to look out for when combing the seashore.
• When you return from your trip, check the internet to identify what your shell is.
2. String and rope
· String, rope, discarded pieces of fishing net can be used for recycled crafts.
· These are the remains of tiny animals that lived in the sea from 470 million years ago, found in among the pebbles.
· Seaweed might look a bit slimy and smell a bit but its often home to an abundance of wildlife. See how many colours you can find - red, brown and green are the most common.
5. Heart-shaped stones
· Smoothed by the sea, heart-shaped stones are a beautiful creation of nature and a lovely way to bring a memory of your day at the beach into your home.
· Driftwood can be dried out to use for craft or use in your garden. The best times to look are after high tide or a large storm.
7. Sea glass
· Sea glass is formed when man made glass items such as broken bottles are smoothed and frosted by the waves over around 20-30 years leaving them beautifully finished.
8. Sea creatures
· Often home to crabs and small fish, rock pools are a great place to start when looking for sea creatures.
· Look out for cuttlefish which are loved by pigeons, magpies and crows if placed in your garden and look out for shark egg cases, often known as mermaid’s purses
9. A message in a bottle
· Did you know a message in a bottle has been reported to have been found 10,000 miles away from where it started? Keep your eye out for messages from strangers or send your own.
· There are many beautiful stones on the beach.
· Stones with holes have always been considered lucky and there are various stories about them – in some areas they are called fairy stones as if you look through the hole towards the end of your garden at dusk you will see the fairies dancing and going about their fairy business.
· They make great wind chimes strung up in the trees in the garden.
Beachcombing is most effective just as the tide is going out. As the waters move back, a whole host of new treasures are left behind.
Our beaches and rock pools are home to a variety of interesting wildlife, so be careful not to disturb or remove any living creatures. Remember that if you turn a rock over, put it back - it’s part of an ecosystem. Rocks protect creatures from predators but also from the sun.
Only take home open shells where you can see from the outside that someone’s not at home and be sensible about the finds you keep.
Make sure you take a hat and sun cream to protect you on sunny days, along with plenty of water.
Make sure you know the tides and take a watch so you’re not forced into a hasty retreat
Sadly, the beach isn’t always clean - so watch out for obviously dangerous items - fish hooks and metal in particular. If you’re planning on exploring rocks, always err on the side of caution. Be adventurous - but take care!
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