The Intractable Autodidact

You are your own best teacher

Beachcombing for Things You Cannot Buy

Beachcombing ‘for’ isn’t even accurate. You can’t beachcomb for anything. You get what King Neptune thinks you need, and maybe you need nothing. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I received some of these in a mangrove, not solely on the beach. Both salt water though.

This previous post on a found item featured a wood carving pulled from mangroves. Their roots act like fingers and hold on to all sorts of flotsam and jetsam, whereas on a beach the tide can pull things back out to the deep. It began on a nice quiet weekday outing to Matheson Hammock Park, looking for interesting things to photograph. First I found this unusual rock. It’s very light and quite porous; almost like pumice. These kinds of rocks are not seen in South Florida. We do have lots of fossil coral and some coquina (fascinating stuff), but nothing pumice-y at all. I’ll have to put it under a magnifier to see if I can find shell fragments. It just spoke to me, so light and feathery it is!

Pumice-like rock

Pumice-like rock

Next I walked along the beach, covered in green algae and various seaweeds (me, not the beach). And this little beauty was just there with no other bones keeping it company.

It has to be a fish vertebra from a good-sized animal. It’s about .75″ across, and almost sculptural in appearance. Is it not a vertebra? What else could those cup-like ends do but protect the spinal cord passing through?

Fish vertabra

Fish vertabra

I had a motive for visiting the water this day. I got a waterproof camera for Christmas and was looking for any way to try it out, even if it meant just sticking my hand in at the water’s edge. I was looking for plants or anything really in a little saltwater canal, and still can’t believe I found this:

Another fish vertebra

Another fish vertebra

Another vertebra, perfect and white. How was I able to spot this laying in sand under a couple feet of water? I was meant to. Isn’t it exquisite? The photo doesn’t do it justice; it’s just so perfectly formed and odd-looking. I ponder this bit of calcium and wonder what fish it resided in.

Now the fun at the mangroves starts. Kids and parents started to stare at the weird guy poking around and staring at the muddy mangroves, sticking something into the water every so often. I don’t even recall finding this. It’s a dense plastic, and has some marine growth cemented to parts. There is something strangely beautiful and forlorn about this headless maquette. What was it in life?

Headless horseman, headless horse

Headless horseman, headless horse

And the fun continued when I was drawn to a little green blob among mud and algae. How did I find this?! It’s actually two house keys melded together with corrosion and patina. I imagine it took many, many years to get like this. Someone must have looked desperately for them, or maybe they opened the doors of a house no longer owned, the former owner angrily throwing them into Poseidon’s purse. These gifts fascinate me. And I couldn’t buy that if I tried.

The Key

The Keys

Oh and at any rate, here are a few of the underwater shots I set out to take.

Underwater tryptych with mosquito fish

Underwater tryptych with mosquito fish


10 comments on “Beachcombing for Things You Cannot Buy

  1. Being En Pointe
    February 1, 2013

    Awesome finds, Ken! My daughter loves to explore and would definitely enjoy finding cool things like these. Great pics, too! Hey, maybe you can dive with ScubaNation guys on the Atocha?? Let’s get you on TV!

    • kentiki
      February 1, 2013

      Kids have that spirit that we should all try to keep. Finding is way cooler than buying, and cheaper. The Atocha, hell yeah! That’d be unreal. Did you see FIU bought the Aquarius?

  2. rthepotter
    February 1, 2013

    Now that looks like a really happy afternoon.

  3. Evolution of X
    February 2, 2013

    Cool finds! I have fish vertebrae similar to the second one because I thought it looked like art, too (though I think that first one is even cooler. I wish I knew enough to identify the species they came from.) I like human artifacts too. It’s fun trying to imagine how they ended up in the ocean and how long they’ve been there. Very cool underwater photos. I’d love to try that one day.

    • kentiki
      February 3, 2013

      Thank you! I doubt even an expert could identify the species so don’t feel bad. I’m glad you collected one too. I can’t wait to actually try the camera while swimming.

  4. Barbara Backer-Gray
    February 2, 2013

    Wonderful! Your pictures make all your finds look like museum pieces! And the underwater pictures are nice, too.

  5. Cathy Laws
    April 10, 2013

    That is some cool stuff! Went to hilton head island with my boyfriend over Christmas, we stumbled across a sand dollar completely in tact, and it was as if I was yelling in a deep voice in slow motion “Don’t step on it!!!!!!” Hahaha. Finding cool items on the beach can be exciting 🙂 thanks for following me, looking forward to your future posts

    • kentiki
      April 11, 2013

      Thank you! Sand dollars are great. I have yet to find one.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on January 31, 2013 by in bones, Discovery, exploration, imaging, nature, Ocean, photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

Take a look at my collection of photos on Flickr

Nature Blog Network
%d bloggers like this: