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?