The sun was gleaming down on what was set to be the hottest day we had encountered throughout the duration of the Florida trip.
I was still suffering the (often confusing) effects of jet lag gained from both a combination of travelling and a significant different in time zones between The US and The UK. (Five hours!) Fortunately for me, this meant I was awake and ready, prepared to watch the morning sunrise whilst sitting comfortably in the presence of a blue heron(Ardea herodias) a known visual hunter who then proceeded to loudly vocalise before rapidly fleeing the area.
We began driving to Barefoot Beach at 9:45am, excited to reunite with Jimmy to gain a deeper understanding about various shells, following Jimmy’s strong and most upmost passion – Beach-combing.
Beach combing made an appearance in Herman Melville’s novel – Omoo, (translated as wanderer) which was published in 1947. A tale about enchanting adventures partaken in the Southern Seas.
Throughout the years, Jimmy had taken up the hobby and had soon become mesmerised by his unique and fascinating findings as he trailed the beach during various points of the day. Although, he joyously announced that he had a preference for early morning, when the beach was quiet and there seemed to be a greater amount of shells and other items for him to keenly collect.
Sea beans, originating from The Caribbean and South America, stand as one of Jimmy’s preferred species to collect amongst the beach. And the Ecuadorian current has started to bring them near the Gulf Of Mexico.
Sea beans are often referred to as drift seeds and can be defined as seeds and fruits that are carried to the ocean by freshwater streams and rivers to then drift within the ocean.
There are also sea hearts which come from the monkey ladder vine that grows in The Amazon Rainforest alongside the Columbus bean, also originating from The Amazon. Sea glass is also an incredible species, known as mermaids tears, which are small fragments of glass that have been washed up, giving them a frostier appearance.
The best known time for beach combing is during times with a low tide and a new moon, or following a storm.
Some species are known to become caught up in wrack lines, meaning they act like a natural packing material. The species are rare and valuable and are often used as currency, or Wompum (The Native term for money).
We then made our way to the beach for the duration of one hour, where we proceeded to scan our open surroundings for unique shells which we had the pleasure of identifying. Successfully, we collected a wide range of items, including corals, shells that resembled cat paws and horn shells.
Whenever we met Jimmy, I became increasingly more enkindled upon hearing stories about his passions and the facts he delivered about species and their fascinating histories.