Beach Combing

ave just received in the mail a complimentary copy of a magazine, "The Economist" with a feature article on The Deep Green Sea. The copy was sent to me by Sir Colville Young, Governor General of Belize, who is an avid reader of my column. It is a very interesting article and includes a section entitled "Beach combing - beach debris from Ducie Island."

We used to call beach combing "playar" in Spanish. Here is a list of the most common things that perhaps Hotel El Playador can put up as island ex position of debris on our beaches.

1. Glass bottles - these we used to clean and use them as containers for water or other household uses.
2. Bottle tops or caps - these were useless.
3. Plastic bottles - these were used if they were clean as water bottles by the coconut farmers.
4. Small glass buoys - were mostly hung on fences as decorations.
5. Large glass buoys - these were hung from the ceilings as decorations, especially in bars. Some were cut and light bulbs inserted in them.
6. Rubber or Styrofoarn buoys - these were collected by fishermen and were used as floats on the seine nets.
7. Pieces of rope - thin ones were used to tie doreys, to tie hammocks, or for the clothesline. Thick ones were sold to owners of large ships.
8. Segments of plastic pipes - were used to hit dogs, kill iguanas, etc. along the beach.
9. Shoes - were used as one walked along the beach.
10. Sandals - were picked up and later used to walk among the burrs when one went to the bush.
11. Jars - were collected and used to store nails, screws, and spices in the kitchen.
12. Crates - were picked up and used as crates.
13. Copper sheeting from hulls of shipwrecks - were collected and bent into compact pieces to be used as sinkers.
14. Aerosol cans - always picked up and if they had any paint, one would play around.
15. Food and drink cans - were picked up and read and one longed for the day that he could taste such delicious foods.
16. Fluorescent tubes - were immediately broken just for the fun of it. (No fluorescent fixtures in San Pedro in the 50's or 60's nor 70's.)
7. Light bulbs - were picked up and shaken. If there was noise, it was broken. If no shaking parts, was taken home to be tried. One out of 20 possibly worked.
18. Cigarette lighters - one -always played with the flint stone.
19. Pan tops - picked up - examined and flung back into the sea.
20. Dolls' heads - this was a favorite. Dads always picked them up and took them home for their daughters.
21. Gloves - were tried on. Most of them were used to hold lobsters when working with them. Also used when chopping hard weeds.
22. Asthma inhalers - were picked up and pressed to hear the hissing sound.
23. Construction worker's hats - oh, they were picked up and taken home, for the kids of course. It made your day!
24. Footballs (punctured) - always picked up and kicked with disgust.
25. Syringe - picked up, smelled, and thrown away.
26. Truck tires - jumped over.
27. Plastic hanger - kicked away.
28. Plastic foot mat - examined. If it was not too bad, it was taken home to be placed on the steps or front door.
29. Small gas cylinder - flung at a coconut tree just to hear a clatter.
30. Tea strainer - if in good condition, it was taken home to be used, of course.
31. Toy soldier or plastic animal - taken home to be cleaned by removing the tar and put into the collection. The toy soldiers were American soldiers and there were a few Apaches.
32, Bamboo - yes, collected for building lobster traps.
33. Belts - collected to be used if not too worn out. Also used to tie bundles.
34. Lumber - always welcome and used to build fences, garages, fowl and pig pens, etc.
35. Entangled fishing lines with hooks - one always tried to disentangle them for possible use. Most of the time one ended with a 100 or 200 foot nylon line. a prize to any kid.

Island debris has not always been considered debris or trash. 25 years ago we made special beach combing journey's - men, women, and children, and one man's waste became another person's treasures. Can't we convert seaweed into a useful fertilizer? I want to believe someone will become rich one of these days with produce from our beaches. I hope it is not from marijuana or cocaine. Let's go beach combing. It's fun!

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