Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Unusual Debris

Beachcombing continues to fascinate islanders as well as visitors to Ocracoke Island. An abundance of seashells can usually be found after a storm or hurricane. Other items occasionally wash up. I discovered the following account in a mid-twentieth century newspaper article, "Outer Banks: Explorers' Anchorage" by Kenneth Bates, Jr.: 

"On a recent stroll down the beach, I saw, among other things, a Florida coconut, a piece of wood painted with Chinese or Japanese characters, several full cans of emergency drinking water used on Coast Guard life rafts, a bottle inscribed with the words “Republica Dominicana, Rentas Internas,” two unopened gallon tins of sauerkraut and lima beans, an abundance of shells and driftwood, a large hunk of coral and a transparent glass net float, about the size of a cantaloupe, the kind Florida fishermen use. Like the coconut, it probably traveled north via the Gulf Stream since glass floats of this type are not used in fishing off the Carolinas."

Glass Net Float Found at Ocracoke

Modern-day beachcombers are unlikely to find glass net floats, but other treasures often wash ashore. Even if you don't find a net float, a scotch bonnet or a hunk of coral, a stroll along Ocracoke's beach is always a good way to calm the soul.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is Lachlan Howard's essay about the Fresnel Lens and its use in theater, solar ovens, cameras, and industry, as well as lighthouse illumination. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous7:33 AM

    Philip, just wondering...when was the last time something 'intesting' washed onto the beach? (you do realize that you are our eyes and ears there(we are 300 miles away!) for years this has been one of our favorite web sites. Thanks. A daily reader

  2. After the two recent hurricanes there have been lots of shells washing up on the beach. But I haven't heard of much else except a coconut or a "sea bean" (a tropical seed pod) now and then. In the past we've seen fruits and vegetables, shoes, and Doritos (on Hatteras Island). And I did hear that someone found a bottle with a note in it not long ago. Didn't hear any more about that. Thanks for the kind words.

  3. Anonymous6:37 AM

    If something is found on the beach is it necessary to report the find to someone??? I mean if gold coins are found is someone going to share that news with others??

    1. I might be mistaken about this, but I understand that anything found on the beach is NPS property...but anything found below the tide line is not. I think any coins or other objects are always found below the tide line or floating in the water!