Recycling Glass as Sea Glass aka Mermaids Tears

 

Pulteney Point

A long time ago back in 1969 on my first lighthouse at Pulteney Point, we used to recycle glass bottles by taking them out in the boat or canoe, and breaking the washed glass bottle over the side of the boat and letting the fragments settle onto the ocean floor. It was not pollution as such as most glass is 90% sand. 

Have you ever seen frosted glass pieces in the beach sand? Usually many varieties of colours from the sea green pieces of broken glass from Asian fishing net floats (glass balls) to the browns and whites of everyday bottles. Usually the bottle is thrown in the sea from land, thrown overboard from a boat, or dumped from a garbage scow off a big city. Glass is the most recyclable of modern user items, even if it is just dumped in the ocean.

The whole bottle can be returned for refilling, the broken ones can be melted down and remade into new bottles. But the sea does it differently. With the pounding of the waves on a beach, each piece of a broken glass is ground down, rounded off, and frosted by the action of sand moved by the waves. Another name for these polished glass shards is mermaid’s tears.

If you are lucky you can find every colour, with red and blue harder to find. At the end of this article I will give you a way to make your own sea glass. It is very beautiful as a floor in an aquarium, used to support candles, make sun catchers – uses are endless.

What brought this story to mind was this news article:

The Glass Beach in California – January 13, 2013 on Twisted Sifter

glass-beach-mackerricher-park-fort-bragg-california – Photograph by Jef Poskanzer

In MacKerricher State Park, near the city of Fort Bragg in northern California, you will find a beach littered with glass. Over decades of crashing waves the glass has been smoothed and rounded, transforming the shoreline into a colourful palette of pebble-like glass and sand. . . . more

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Now, as promised, if you do not live near a beach with sea glass, you can make your own easily. My last lighthouse was on a rocky island with no beaches – hence no sea glass.

Go to your nearest rockhound shop and purchase their cheapest rock tumbler. The one I had was two rubber barrels on two rollers run by a small electric motor (similar to photo on the left). The next item you need from the rockhound shop is their coarsest grit to rough up the glass.

beach Glass from a Tumbler

Carefully break any bottles you want to tumble, fill a tumbler barrel with the broken glass, add water and grit, close the lid securely and drop the barrel on the rails and let it run all night. Check in the morning if your glass is what you desire. If not, then tumble some more.

 

 

It is hard to tell real sea glass from the tumbled variety, and you have an infinite variety of coloured glass to choose from – just go to your nearest liquor store – especially in the wine section! Check out this website for more information.

 

If you are on Facebook, check out this page from a lighthouse on the BC coast where they recycle the beach glass into ornaments such as earrings, etc.

Are You Looking for Lighthouse-Related Items?

When I was browsing a crafty website called Completely Coastal which I reviewed earlier I came across an advertisement for Etsy. Searching for things lighthouse, I typed that into the Etsy page search box. The page in the picture below came up.

It is page one (1) of two hundred eighteen (218) pages of lighthouse-related items, for a total of 8,696! Enjoy! Tell us what you bought!

Clicking on the photo below takes you to the lighthouse search items on Etsy.

Reprint – The Great Pacific Garbage Reality

May 27, 2012 – copied from the LA Times

The great Pacific garbage reality. It’s not tsunami debris we should fear; it’s the trash clogging our oceans – Usha Lee McFarling

I received permission today to reprint this article written by Usha Lee McFarling supporting the theory expressed in my story  Japanese Debris On The BC Coast – Is it from the Tsunami?

In thirty-two (32) years living on and beachcombing the British Columbia (BC) coast in many different areas, I still believe that the press is making a big, and false, hoopla over this.

Sure, every year debris comes on the western North American (NA) coasts in the wintertime – a lot of it from Asia (not only Japan!). This year seems to be an exceptionally good year for garbage with tides and currents working well together to bring it to the NA shores, and the debris is also supplemented by the Japanese tsunami of March 2011. Don’t panic! It has been happening every year, with or without the tsunami!

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The Story from Ms. McFarling:

Harley-Davidson ( Peter Mark / Kyodo News, Associated Press / May 2, 2012 ) A rusting Harley-Davidson from Miyagi prefecture, Japan, was discovered on a remote beach in British Columbia in late April and photographed May 2.

For months, West Coast residents have been bracing for an onslaught of items drifting toward us since last spring’s tsunami in northeastern Japan, which swept apartment buildings, cars, even entire villages, into the sea.

Now we are seeing the first trickle of that debris. A ghost ship arrived in the Gulf of Alaska this spring. A rusting Harley Davidson from Miyagi prefecture was discovered on a remote beach in British Columbia. A soccer ball found on an Alaskan island and marked with a personal message was returned to its delighted teenage owner in the tsunami-devastated town of Rikuzentakata.

Like dreams — or nightmares — these wayward bits of other people’s lives bring us closer to the distant disaster. They make the world smaller. A number of groups have started projects to reunite recovered possessions with their former owners. And one beachside town in Oregon is hoping tsunami “treasure hunting” will result in increased tourism.

But now that the first unlikely items have reached us, we’re also beginning to worry: Will the debris be radioactive? Will human remains turn up? Will mountains of scrap cover our beaches? One blogger callously suggested the Japanese government should pay for the cleanup.

Such reactions reveal a torrent of misconception. Continue reading

Japanese Debris On The BC Coast – Is it from the Japanese Tsunami?

 

The next time you go to the beach and pick up a piece up something from the sand, think of the story of how it arrived there. Is it something lost from the local town, or something that has drifted for years to arrive here just for you?

Kuroshio Current (upper left)

 Early in the 1900’s – commercial Japanese crab fishermen began replacing wooden and cork floats on their fishing nets with free blown glass floats. When the nets broke loose or were lost, the net rotted and the glass balls floated free from their nets and drifted across the Pacific, along with much other debris, on the Kuroshio Current (also known as the Black Stream or Japanese Current). This is a north-flowing ocean current on the west side of the North Pacific Ocean and it is part of the North Pacific ocean gyre1.

1910 – PRESENT – Every year the Kuroshio Current brings material from Asia to North American shores – floats, shoes, boats, wood, bottles, cans, etc. – garbage! Continue reading

Glass Balls – The Dream of Every Beachcomber

Various sizes - photo BeachComberBum

In my years on the lights there was always talk of finding a glass ball. The inside lights such as my first one at Pulteney Point did not have too much chance of stopping a floating glass ball because of the strong tides.

My first outside light [not sheltered by land] was Quatsino but with only one beach at the back of the island and all the rest rocky it was nigh on impossible. Pachena  wasn’t much better and we weren’t there long enough to hit the beaches around the area. Green Island was like Pulteney but we did find one or two there sitting in the pools. 

So a real outside light was needed, and one was waiting! 

Our 14 ft. Zodiac with stowable sail - photo John Coldwell

We moved to McInnes Island  in 1977 and in the next couple of years we outfitted a fourteen (14) foot (4.27 m) Zodiac with a 25 HP Evinrude outboard with which we could go beachcombing. The children were still young then (see photo left) so a lot of the beachcombing was done alone with not much luck. Oh, I found a couple but nothing big. Then a friend came up and he found a larger one – about 12 inches (30.5 cms) in diameter along with a couple of small ones.  Continue reading