Transatlantic deliveries

With birding on Beachy Head being slow, I’ve been turning my attention to beachcombing! Something I’ve been mostly oblivious to until now. This has been fuelled by a recent purchase, The Essential Guide to Beachcombing, from which I quote heavily from below.

An endless procession of weather systems coming in from the west has delivered large amounts of material and flotsam from the other side of the Atlantic. The most interesting of which have been from the Gulf of Mexico.


Goose Barnacles Lepas anatifera. This cluster found on Birling Gap beach on the 9th Feb. These crustaceans originate from tropical and sub-tropical regions of the Atlantic, so the items they adorn will be from many 1000’s of miles away. Unfortunately no Columbus Crabs in this lot.


Perhaps the most exciting find was the discovery of a “Sea Bean” or in this case a “Sea Heart” on the 13th Feb. These are the seeds of large, tree sized vines growing in the tropical areas of the Americas and the West Indies. The saline tributaries and costal rivers, along which they grow, act as natural conveyors for their dispersal. A number of seeds inevitably get lost to the sea and transported across the Atlantic by the Gulf Stream. I’m not sure of their frequency this far east, their occurrence is usually focused towards the SW, especially Cornwall.


The Sea Heart. Entada Gigas. On my table in Sussex after an 8000km journey from it’s tropical home.


Above, Jake Everett’s Sea Beans from Newhaven. Found the same morning as mine at Holywell. An amazing journey these seeds have made and especially hard to hunt for on a shingle beach!

There’s also large amounts of man made flotsam and debris some of which have made similar if not longer journeys adrift on the open ocean. Below is an Octopus Pot, something I would have discarded as “just junk”prior to this winter. I’ve inserted a picture of them stacked up in the Bahamas in the top left corner.


These are used by fisherman off the west coast of Africa and when lost to the sea, they drift with the prevailing current towards the Caribbean where they wash up with regularity. Some then continue, getting delivered onto the shores of NW Europe curtesy of the Gulf Stream. A looping journey of some 14.000km. This leaves me pondering two things, the remarkable movement of the worlds oceans and the increasing amount of plastic detritus we are putting into it. Materials that last much longer than a human life time.


Above some more man made junk deposited in the wake of storm Imogen. A 3 meter long nautical buoy, florescent glow sticks used by long line fishing boats,  a miscellaneous “black pearl” boat float and a Cameroon sports shirt!


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1 Response to Transatlantic deliveries

  1. Bruneco says:

    Good content pal. I remember watching something about the seeds on the BBC Coast series. That Cameroon shirt was probably used by pirates! Collector’s item.


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