Sea Glass: A Salty Piece of History


Glass can be crafted into countless objects that take on many different forms, from bottles, to windows, to binoculars. While these beautiful creations are certainly pleasant to look at and use, my favorite form of glass is actually when it’s broken. This may sound a little peculiar, but it will all make sense in just a moment.

Sea glass is glass that has been thrown, dumped, or dropped, purposefully or accidentally, into the sea. There, it spends years being tumbled between waves, rocks, and sand. Over time the sharp edges are worn away, leaving behind rounded ends and a foggy complex. The glass that was once clear loses its shine and takes on a textured, rougher feel. Although sea glass has a white tint when dry, it glistens when freshly out of the water. I often feel like I’ve found a gem from a treasure chest when I see a piece nestled between the pebbles, just out of touch from the waves kissing the shoreline.

Amidst all of the other pebbles on the beach, it can be hard to spot a piece of sea glass, especially when the clear pieces easily blend in. On days when I’m stressed out or simply want to get outside, I slowly stroll down the shoreline, scanning the ground in a methodical, back and forth manner. Step by step, side to side, I make my way down the beach. Once you find even a handful of pieces, your eyes begin to tune in to various shapes and colors, like the way the foggy texture of sea glass stands out among the grainy sand and other smooth rocks.

Walking down the beach frees up some time to think, some time to clear the mind. There’s nothing like the natural remedy of salt air and the sound of the ocean. Thinking about nothing, the way the beach has been here for thousands of years. Thinking about how old the sand is that I’m walking on. In a town like Victorian Cape May, where I was born and raised, there’s no telling just how old some of these pieces could be or what stories they have to tell. Hundreds of years of history could be right at my fingertips.

While sea glass never fails to be stunning and unique, it’s important to remember that these mysterious little treasures are a result of pollution. I love finding pieces on the beach, but I love the ocean even more. For that very reason, it is vital to keep our oceans clean and do not dump glass (or anything, for that matter) into the water. This planet is our home, and it’s our job to keep it clean.

On the flip side of that, and on a bit more of a positive note, you can think of looking for sea glass as not only a treasure hunt, but as a beach cleanup. So keep looking, keep treasure hunting, and keep our beaches and oceans clean!

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