Monday, December 29, 2008

Final Tally for 2008

I think my bean collecting for the year is over. We spent one day on the dunes over the Christmas holidays but we were in an area that I had previously searched and other than a few pecans, waterlogged sea hearts, and almonds, the picking was pretty slim. I learned that if you find a sea heart that has been ruptured or cracked and has absorbed water - leave it! It stinks like old manure and the smell will follow you all day.

I'm happy with my finds so far and am eager to see what the spring tides will bring.

These are the keepers I have collected since August - Sea Hearts, Sea Coconuts, Starnut Palms, Prickly Palms, Jamacan Walnuts, Nickarnuts, Sea Purses and Hamburger Beans. All were found on Matagorda Peninsula between the mouth of the Colorado River and Mitchell's Cut near Sargent.

I have recently spoken with the manager of the Matagorda Bay Nature Center and may soon be creating an interactive display for educational purposes.

I also plan to visit some more Texas beaches to expand the collection.

Happy New Year and Happy Beaning!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Starnut Giveaway

Friday before supper we had the beach all to ourselves. I searched the dunes while Tracy looked for shells. I found several starnuts, a prickly palm, one blisterpod, and a couple of sea hearts.

I had to show my finds to a fellow sea beaner Edie Pruitt at Spoonbills. She got so interested in the starnuts that I offered her one. Little did I know that her sister Maree was also a sea bean fan and when she showed up I gave her one too.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

In the Neighborhood

Since we now have the travel trailer parked at Pelican Point and the beach is just a few miles away, we'll have more opportunities for beaning.

Here are today's keepers:

Two sea hearts (I found a third one in the dunes but it was cracked and falling apart), one starnut palm, one brown nickarnut, one hamburger bean, and a prickly palm.

I'm using the Dremel tool to clean off the crusted salt and to start the polishing process.

My collection is getting bigger!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Finders Keepers

OK I admit it - sea beaning isn't for everyone. I was reminded recently that the blank stares and unusual looks I get when telling all I know about this facinating subject to others should be expected. After all, not everybody gets it!

But you must get it since you have found your way to this blog. So for your enjoyment I tried to capture the thrill of the chase...the exciting and rarely experienced "Search for the Sea Bean".

Here is a great find - a sea heart.
Beaners have been known to shout aloud at this sight.

My first sea purse.
Oh the stories you could tell my little one...

Another gem - a red hamburger bean.
My eyes are trained to spot these amid the debris.

It's always nice to see a fellow seeker in the dunes.
"Have you seen any bees?"

This brown burger was a little tricky to spot as it was sitting on edge.

The next saddle bean was found close to this "medicine" bottle.

I'm told you have to be a little "Goofy" to spend time searching
through washed up garbage and debris for seeds.

Ah... another prize.

This is a rare black hamburger bean from deep in the tropics.

Another sea heart. Watch out for the meadow muffins!
Those silly cows....

My eye is drawn to other forms of semetry while looking for beans. Here is a sample of other collectibles found while searching the wrack.

Found and gathered but left behind, these are some of the more common drift seeds I have come across on this particular beach.

Water hickory, black walnut, pecans, and even a couple starnut palms that had become punky from too long in the salt water made the list of leave-behind seeds this day.

Here are the keepers: Three sea hearts, four hamburgers, two sea purses or saddle beans, one sea coconut, one candlenut and one prickly palm. I spent some time cleaning up the sea hearts and used did some light sanding on the sea coconut and the prickly palm.

These were my first two sea purses. They are very similar to hamburgers but have a thinner middle layer and are flattened and have a wider hinge.

Here they are shown with a red and a black hamburger on either side.

This is a before and after shot of a prickly palm. They don't look like much when found (right) but after some sanding and polishing they develop a nice lustre.

I hope you had fun searching for sea beans. Come by again!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Birthday Beans

How do you spend your birthdays?

As I get older I find that time spent with my wife doing quiet activities like beachcombing are just what the doctor ordered. I'm not sure if it is the escape from the stress or the enjoyment of being outside that is so appealing.

Tracy and I used to go to antique (junk) stores in search of treasures. Now we roam the beach looking for free junk.

Here is the collection from today's search: We found several walnuts, pecans, and almonds along with a few starnut palms some prickly palm and a blister pod. There were some new finds this trip along with some topwater lures that were still in good shape.

In amongst the beach debris, I always see parts of toys. This collection was from the spare parts department.

I searched for hours in the dunes without finding a single hamburger bean but found one near the beach in the line of recent flotsam. There must still be some floaters out there!

I continue picking up sea coconuts like these even though they are only good if the shell is intact. These were left behind after the photo shoot.

Here is a collection of balls including a mini beach ball. Someone may find the display and wonder...

I may have been reported to the government as this military gunship buzzed me.

Here are some more sea coconuts I found on excursion #2. Some of these will make it home with me for polishing.

This sea coconut still had some of the husk attached - a fairly uncommon find.

These were the prize finds of the day - three sea hearts and one red hamburger. Notice how fresh and shiny the sea heart on the right is compared to the other two.

I had some new finds today - the two in the front are seeds from the antidote vine, the two in the back are a butternut (top left) and a candlenut aka Jamaican walnut. The candlenut gets its name from the oil that is produced from it's seed that is used for oil lamps in some countries. The seed contains 50% oil and it was also removed and skewered to a thin piece of bamboo and lit where it would burn for 45 minutes.

Here are some other interesting objects - two wine bottle corks (one new and one old), two Teflon balls (bearings?) ,and one red fake fruit possibly a cherry.

You never know what you might find along the beach or from where it may originate.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


I was out of town for the week and upon returning, it was time for some fishing & beaning.

The wrack line in the dunes hasn't yet been covered over by the blowing sand so we decided to brave the skeeters and search for some more treasures from the sea.

Tracy started out looking for shells along the surf line but I donned my long sleeves and pants and a sun hood and sun gloves to do battle with the bugs. It had been cooler at night and the hoards were slow in getting active so between the spray and covering I was OK.

We found several of the usual characters - Tropical Almonds, Sea Coconuts, Pecans, Black Walnuts, and Water Hickorys.

This trip also yielded some good finds like a Blister Pod, one Red and one Brown Hamburger Bean, two Starnut Palms (Tracy found the big one) and one Gray Nickarnut.

There were some firsts also like one Brown Nickarnut and three Acorns. Also shown in the picture is some fishing debris that I couldn't pass up

Here is Tracy's Starnut Palm with the Nickarnuts and Hamburger Beans.

Burgers and Beans anyone? The gray Nickarnut is also called a Sea Pearl and is strung into necklaces and other jewelry.

I picked up another coconut to add to the growing collection - What do you do with a half dozen or so coconuts anyway?.

Tracy also found her first Sea Heart which made the day for her.

She thought she had found another when she spied the stick shift knob partially buried in the sand.

Until next time - Happy Beaning!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Worth It?

Saturday afternoon, Tracy and I went to Matagorda beach for some "beaning". Little did we know that the recent rain had provided the necessary conditions for a new batch of hungry mosquitoes.

It's hard to exaggerate how thick and aggressive these beach bloodsuckers can be. They can find any spot of exposed skin and will try to fly up your nose, in your ears, and under your hat.

Luckily, they reside mostly up in the dunes as the constant breeze at the water's edge keeps them at bay but if you are foolish enough to go "back there", a cloud of them will follow you until you kill them off.

The best beans have recently been found in the wrack line from the big storm where it breached the dunes and flooded the sandy washes and areas between the sand and the sea.

We started back to search and quickly began to question whether we could stand it or not. We had some spray back in the Jeep but Tracy decided to go to the water's edge instead and search for shells. I on the other hand am not as wise and thought I would stay in the dunes as long as I could to search for the elusive beach beans.

I found several "golf balls" or sea coconuts. These are fairly big and easy to see even when waiving, swatting, hopping, and generally doing the "Matagorda Mosquito Dance".

You can see that these are pretty cracked and crumbly. I tossed them back after the picture. If the outer shell is not broken, these can be polished to a glossy luster. I'm working on one that I will post up when it is finished.

Here is the final stash of keepers. One Starnut Palm, one Tropical Almond (a nice specimen with much of the husk intact), one that I think is a Water Hickory with it's husk intact, two Red Hamburger Beans, and one Sea Heart.

You may also notice in the back of the picture, the rare Star Studded Super Ball that I could not pass up.

I had several battle scars from this trip. I must have been bitten by at least a hundred skeeters and seem to have escaped malaria and West Nile virus for now. I may have to consider the consequences the next time I get a chance to dig in the dunes!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Sea Hearts

After a morning of fishing in McNab with nothing to show but some windblown cheeks and sore arms, we headed to the beach for a little search & rescue. I have a mission to rescue some beach beans from becoming buried in the dunes forever.

You can see from this picture that the flotsam ended up in the dunes after the storm. The seeds are light and follow the tide to the debris line. In addition to the natural driftwood and seaweed there are a myriad of other man-made items that end up in the mix.

Here is a sea coconut as-found in the debris. This drift seed is also called the "golf ball" as it resembles a lost ball after it is bleached out by the sun. If one is found with the outer husk intact, this seed can be polished to a glossy shine.

I'm working on one and will post the finished product one day.

I spotted several coconuts and tried not to pick them all up. I did end up with this one showing a piece of the shell still attached to the husk and another one that was mostly just seed that I'm cleaning up.

Here are the seeds I bagged from this trip. Lots of the usual characters but some new ones as well. I found three Hamburger Beans - two red ones and one brown one.

Also note the three sea hearts in the upper left. These are what most folks think of when they hear the term "sea bean". I was excited to find these and even though one was smashed it was a start to the collection.

Brown Hamburger Bean on left and two Red Hamburgers in the middle and on right.

Hamburger beans are cool!

Here are two of the sea hearts, The large one is pretty smooth and glossy and the smaller one needs some polishing. Both were found in plain sight with minimal effort - you just needed a sharp eye.

The smaller one was partially buried but the color is a dead give a way.

We spotted this egret along the beach road on the way out. Sometimes you need to have the camera ready for every opportunity.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Searching the Dunes

After Ike, the beachcombing was sure to improve. Tracy and I visited the beach not long after the storm and she found some cool shells.

The lighter drift seeds and Beach Beans were pushed way up into the dunes.

This picture shows the collection found on this excursion. There are some of the usual characters like Tropical Almonds, Water Hickory, Pecans, and Sea Coconuts. I found some new specimens though including a Gray Nickarnut, a Brown Hamburger Bean, and what I think is a a Jamaican Navel Spurge.

This is a close up of the brown Hamburger Bean (Mucuna rostrata). This is a seed of a tropical vine from which is also called Ojo de Venado (eye of the deer (or Doe's Eye)), Ojo de Vaca (Cow's Eye) and Ojo de Buey (Bull's Eye).

The vines that produce these seeds grow in Costa Rica, Hawaii, the Amazon, and other exotic locations where they find passage via local rivers to the ocean and then to the Southeastern US by way of the Gulf of Mexico.

I also picked up some coconuts which are also considered drift seeds. The one on the right is a mature seed complete with the natural fibrous husk intact. The one in the middle shows the hard seed with half of the husk removed and the one on the left is a seed only. This one had some holes drilled in it (see on the top and lefthand side). Some of the drills were started and a couple were all the way through the shell. I have to wonder if the coconut drill is some sea creature like the raspy tongued Murex or the Moon Snail both of which drill holes in mollusks and eats them.

Here is a side view of the cut-away coconut. Macaroon on the halfshell anyone?

Thursday, August 28, 2008

First Finds

While geocaching with Tracy, Matt, & Carly I made an initial discovery of drift seeds at about the 7-mile point down the beach.

This collection includes local nuts like Black Walnut and Water Hickory. I also found from far away like the Tropical Almonds, a Hog Plum, a Blister Pod, two Sea Coconuts, and some Starnuts.

I'll post some links soon that will show more information on these interesting seeds.

Friday, August 1, 2008


Most folks who have ever spent much time walking along a beach have enjoyed the array of items that can be found there. The Texas beach we have come to love - Matagorda Peninsula - is a treasure trove of things to see and experience.

We try not to pick up too much stuff to take home but several shells, pieces of driftwood, worn glass, crab shells, and rocks have ended up on our windowsills and in a vareity of containers all around our house.

On a recent trip I discovered several seed pods - some local and some exotic - that were collected together high up near the dunes. I began looking them up for identification and found the wonderful world of sea beans. Some of these floating pods come down the many rivers that drain into the Gulf of Mexico and some are caught up in ocean currents and travel thousands of miles to be washed up with seaweed and man made debris.

This blog will chronicle my finds and will hopefully educate and entertain those lucky enough to find it. Your comments are always welcome. Thanks for visiting - now lets go find some beans!