By Claire Ferguson
Some people happily share the locations of beachcombing spots, while others keep their favorite beaches under wraps. We asked readers to weigh in, and here are the results.
When someone asks you where you get your favorite beach finds, do you tell them?
Most beachcombers answered this question with “It depends.”
Different factors like the location and size of the beach, how public or private it is, and how abundant the finds are, can determine the willingness of a beachcomber to share. The top concern among the surveyed was overcrowding. Most people feel comfortable discussing well known areas with strangers, but might keep that magical “secret” spot to themselves. “If too many people find out, the spot won’t be as special and there won’t be as many good finds left,” one person said. On beaches where beach finds are few and far in between, simply put, fewer people equals more loot. “As the popular saying goes, it’s like a good fishing spot! Sea glass is a finite resource, and my best locations are not very plentiful on the average day,” another person wrote.
Others enjoy the peace that a calmer, quieter beach brings them, and want protect a local area from a sudden influx of people. “My beach is becoming overcrowded. It used to be my place of solitude, now it’s like walking at a mall,” someone mentioned. Some people also described time consuming and physically taxing experiences of finding lesser known, secluded beaches. “It took me years of searching to actually find my secret spot. Why give it away that easily? Plus I don’t want everyone showing up at my location,” one sheller explained.
Where do you share your beach locations?
The majority of respondents said they tell their close friends and family about where they got their finds, but are more careful about sharing information with people they don’t know. “If it is a close beach friend I will tell them, because I know they won’t disclose to everyone. If it is someone I don’t know, I will be more general about the area because I don’t want it announced all over the Internet,” someone explained. Sharing on social media is a common topic of interest, sparking disagreements in online communities about sharing locations. Information can spread quickly and to a much wider audience than ever before, so some people avoid posting locations online, while others express frustration about seeing someone’s fantastic finds and not being able to find out where they got them.
If you don’t share, which of these are factors?
Other concerns people brought up were newcomers unfamiliar with beachcombing etiquette and people completely stripping the beaches. One person said, “I love that folks are discovering beach glass but some need a little more educating. I spend many hours searching, kayaking, and climbing to discover and comb my secret places. People get greedy and take everything.” Another person mentioned they always throw back unfinished sea glass, and don’t appreciate when people take every piece they see, regardless of the condition of the glass.
The general consensus seems to be if the person asking is respectful of other beachcombers, collects responsibly (no live animals, no littering), and has a genuine appreciation for the hobby, then they should be welcomed and encouraged. Only 13% of respondents said they never tell.
While some claimed that monetary gain ruins the fun of beachcombing, others explained that they rely on the practice to make a living. “I live in a tourist area and if everyone found out where I find sea glass, the source for my jewelry business would dry up and it’s important to me to have authentic local sea glass,” said on respondent. Another said, “While we like to share what we find with others, most are aware beach glass is not a never-ending supply. We have to protect the businesses we have worked hard to build. Of course if they stumble across our beach, we are glad to chat about it.”
There were many others who said that they tell where their beach is and who feel that there is plenty to go around, and that a supportive community is more enjoyable than a competitive one. One person wrote, “Collecting sea glass is a hobby and one that everybody should be able to share in. The ocean gives plenty of glass and it sometimes gives more and sometimes gives less. It isn’t science. It is often hit or miss. I want to see other people get as excited and happy as finding some as I do.”
The Campobello Seaglass Festival team shares all their favorite sea glass spots on a map.
As one person wrote, “I don’t mind sharing because public land is for everyone to enjoy. The tide and the weather change beaches and waterways all the time. It really shouldn’t be an issue if you share.” Some commented that many beaches are public areas, and the fun and beauty of them are meant to be shared.
For people just starting out learning about the hobby, it can be extremely rewarding for an experienced beachcomber to share some knowledge, history or even special finds with newcomers.
“I figure, why not let someone else experience the feeling that I get when I find that special piece of glass.”
Let us know what you think
Comment below or add your answers to the Secret Beaches poll.
This article appeared in the Beachcombing Magazine November/December 2021 issue.