Sunday, December 31, 2006

Learning and Having Fun with Beachcombing

Beachcombing can be a wonderful way to have fun while you are out at the beach this summer. Plus it makes for more fun than just lying around in the beach, and you can use it to teach your children about marine life if you would like. Beachcombing is the fine art of looking for certain types of shells or other items on the beach.

Before you head out to the beach, you will need to bring with you some basic necessities. None of them are very expensive, and you should be able to find them anywhere you can get summer gear. You will need a small pail, such as the ones that children use when they are digging in the sand along with a trowel and shovel. You can pick up a plastic shovel; in fact you may be able to find one that comes with a bucket. For the trowel, though, you should get one from a gardening department. Trowels are little like shovels, but they have three bent prongs on them; they will be great for digging things out of the sand when needed. You also should get a magnifying glass so that you can see any small organisms or shells up close.

You should begin by searching the shoreline for basic shells. It is best to do this when the tide is going out because the tide will be leaving behind some shells. Please note that shells used to house living beings. The single shells you see do not, but if you see a double shell that is still intact, chances are there is a marine animal living in it. Be kind and leave it alone. Take home only shells that you know are no longer being used.

Once you begin to move beyond the stuff you are collecting to take home, you should begin to dig around at the edge of the water for things that you will be leaving but want to see. Check around for small fish and other organisms. Though books do not fare well at the edge of the water, if you can find a sturdy book for beachcombing or representing the marine life of the area you are searching, then you may be able to identify everything you find.

If you do not have a book handy, be sure that you take a close look at the organism. Take a picture with your camera if you have it ready. Then later you can search for the organism in books until you find what you saw. Finding these creatures and learning about them can be lots of fun. You can find all sorts of neat little animals at the edge of the water, such as crabs that will run about looking for a place to hide.

If you think you will be bored with the basic shoreline beachcombing, then endeavor to go farther into the water. Bring a seining net with you but be careful that you are not around others when using it. A seining net is used specifically for getting very small marine animals in it. You will need at least two people (teens or adults) to use the net as it can get tough to move in the water. Each person will grab an end and pull the net through the water. Then you will keep going until you have a collection of organisms in the net. You can pull the net from the water and check to see what you have found. Using the seining technique, you will be able to find oysters, fish, and other things that you would not see in the shoreline.

Be careful when you are beachcombing in areas with jellyfish or other organisms that can be harmful. You just need to make sure that you steer clear of them if you see them. Know the area where you are swimming so that you will be aware of currents and drop offs, especially if there are children in your party. Also remember to be on the lookout always and do not get so caught up in your hobby that you are unsafe. Beachcombing is a great way to add a dimension of fun and education to your beach trip.

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