Beach Combing for Trash And We Find Pirate Treasure
Most Of The Trash On Our Beaches Comes From The Ocean As Do Other Treasures We Occasionally Find
The day started out like any other day at the beaches in Delaware Seashore State Park. I took a gander at a beautiful sunrise, got ready to throw a line out a few times and drank my coffee, while eating my Surf Bagel. I was waiting on the clean up crew volunteers. Selfishly hoping no one showed up, so I could just spend the morning surf fishing. They would be here in about an hour and a half, I had time to play and fish. That is why I come out a couple of hours early for every weekly beach clean up, surf fishing.
I set my coffee cup down after a minute and saw nice piece of blue/green sea glass. The tide was dead low and would turn to the incoming at some point. The perfect time to look for sea glass, lot of exposed shell areas, and an empty beach. I started walking the area near Key Box. I didn’t want to wander too far, I had a crew coming. I sure hope they don’t show, I want to fish and look for treasures all morning. I start finding lots of sea glass, typical for this tide cycle, the dead low tide is the best time to look. This lady walks by coming from Dewey beach
“Are you looking for sea glass?”
“Yes I am”.
“There is a bunch back that way I don’t collect it I am looking for shells.”
“Thank you! There is a lot of shells piled in the cuts along the beach further south not fifty feet that way”
She looks excited about that news.
It is getting close to 8:30 AM time to head back to the parking lot. This other lady comes over the dune “Excuse me sir is that your giant 4×4 in the parking lot” I’m thinking uh oh is it on fire or something, she looks concerned and flustered. I don’t see any smoke.
“Yes it is”
Oh thank goodness, we are kind of stuck do you think you can help us?”
This explains where those people went that just disappeared, there aren’t any cars in the parking lot. Uh oh. She is stuck on the ramp. It’s story time.
“We came down in the dark and my daughter said no mom follow that road, so I did and well …”
“You got stuck?” “What kind of truck do you have?”
“It’s a mini van.”
Now on most days people would just call a ranger and let them deal with this, but this lady is visibly flustered. Turns out, the baby is home sick with the dad, she has the kids, they came down in the dark, missed the big red sign, and she is running on three hours of sleep. I felt her pain, of course I am going to help. Not even mad about it, I’m not the one stuck. People get too hyped on the whole car stuck on beach thing, you aren’t the one stuck, calm down.
She says … “We’ve never been here before, it’s our first time.”
“Ya don’t say” I’m joking, nicely and sarcastically, and trying not to laugh. She is on her last nerve, probably the verge of tears, and just wants to go home. I just chuckle and say no worries, I can pull you right out, no big deal.
She is now so happy you can see the relief. John pulls up in his Jeep about that time. “Hey man you feeling frosty? We need to yank this mini out of the sand.”
We hook up his tow rope and with very little pressure, pulls the mini van out with zero effort. She is now a little misty, relieved, hugs us both and heads down the road. Good deed for the day done, and we haven’t even hit the beach yet with buckets.
I show John the pocket full of sea glass, a piece of a plate or saucer, and a lot of wampum. One piece of glass is a campfire glass piece. These are pieces from bottles that have melted in fires then tumbled by the sea. Edges of mason jars with the lid rings, and some glass that wasn’t quit sea glass yet, it gets recycled. No we do not throw it back in, some people do.
The beach clean up crew is slowly starting to arrive. I only walked a 150 feet of beach and found all of that sea glass. We are going to have a good day collecting trash and treasure. Everyone starts showing up, so much for blowing this off and surf fishing all morning. Seriously, I think that every week, it never happens and I am fine with that. Because who doesn’t want to blow off “work” and surf fish.
The crews get ready, I have five gallon buckets and gloves at the ready. We start walking the beaches, about a dozen plus have shown up to help. Everyone saw my pregame collection of beach treasures and gets excited. Lynn Larson arrives and is extremely happy to see these finds. I tell her the tide is dead low, she knows it should be a good day to collect. We find all kinds of things when we clean the beaches, she finds some amazing things every day. “The collecting has been good the last few weeks, seems the good stuff has shifted north a little more” I know what she is referring to since we find some really old stuff on these beaches. Today would be one of those days.
The first interesting find is the snowman someone carved in the sand. Everyone who saw it gets a good laugh. It hasn’t been there long. The tide will take it out later today most likely.
Just down from the snowman we encounter a Christmas tree, the holidays aren’t really over. We are in that Christmas to New Years transition. I only know it is Sunday because it is weekly beach clean up day. It has felt like Sunday since Wednesday.
We are spread out from the dune edge to the water’s edge. Collecting trash as we keep a keen eye out for treasures. We are also looking for the small pieces of plastic, which is just like looking for sea glass. You are looking for what isn’t supposed to be there, that is how you train your eyes. Look for what doesn’t belong on the beach, the “off” colors and shapes. Brown and white get lost in the sand, shells and stones, but you can spot the plastic intruders.
The shell collections at the cuts are numerous, some of us check them for treasures, but some are found all over the beach, not just the fresh washed areas. Every wave reveals and buries, the wind covers and uncovers. It is a never ending cycle.
We always get spread out and take breaks and catch up and get spread out, every clean up. The longer the beach the more we get spread out, I walk fast. Mark and John are both running chase Jeeps today keeping an eye out for everyone and collecting buckets of trash. They have the water, and are our rides out.
Lynn Larson comes up to empty her bucket. “Hey check this out”, she is scrolling her phone for a picture. “I found this guy alive and put it back in the water.” It was a live sand dollar, and still has some purple hue left in the flesh on the top of the skeleton. Hopefully it will survive. “It was washed up in one of the shell areas, I put it back. I never found a live one before.”
Then she nonchalantly mentions the bomb find. “Oh yeah, I found a piece of pirate glass, gave it to that kid Colin.”
Wait … What?
“Yeah, I found a piece of “pirate glass”
Everyone taking a break looks confused, I just smile. “What is pirate glass?”
Pirate sea glass also known as black sea glass is one of the rarest types of sea glass pieces you can find. It is mostly from the old rum bottles on ships from as far back as the 1700’s. I have a few pieces of different colors. It is easy to recognize as far as the age, but to find it is a task. It looks black, but is really a very dark green (usually). There are other colors rarer than the green as well as solid black. These are very old and very rare finds, an absolute treasure among sea glass enthusiasts.
For lack of a better description pirate sea glass just looks old, unlike modern glass it is blown glass and you can just tell. Hold it up to the sunlight and you can see the color, otherwise it looks black, like a stone.
It is not easy to spot pirate glass on the beach among dark rocks, stones and shells. It is often overlooked, blending in with the surrounding detritus. Lynn tells me … “That guy who walked by had a huge piece he found today, I only found that small piece.” I’m laughing you can hear the disappointment.
That guy found a bigger piece than I did, yes it is like that, just like fishing.
So far we have walked most of the northern section of Delaware Seashore State Park from Key Box to Faithful Steward. The buckets were full but not overflowing today. We collected about ninety pounds of trash, and many had pockets full of sea glass, wampum, and cool shells. Colin has a weird, yet cool looking piece of stone he found that is either slate, shale, or petrified wood. He is also beaming holding his piece of pirate glass Lynn gave him. The weather has finally turned, you can see the mist and clouds coming. We call it quits, load up in the jeeps, and the boys drive everyone off the beach in shifts. I need a 4×4 passenger van and a trailer for these clean ups.
We all meet back in the parking lot at Key Box, get our vehicles and head to Iron Hill Brewery, it is lunch time. We have walked a solid three plus miles, but probably more. No one walks in a straight line so I know we covered probably a good five miles per person total today. A few hours and ninety pounds of trash later, we head out.
Thank you all for coming out today to help keep our beaches clean.
It isn’t our trash, but they are our beaches.
Next week we will meet at Southside inlet parking lot and start at 9 AM. Clean the beaches from southside to the end of 3R’s, there is no telling what we will find. Every week is an adventure doing beach clean ups.