Kenneth Setzer

Beachcombing for Things You Cannot Buy

Beachcombing ‘for’ isn’t even accurate. You can’t beachcomb for anything. You get what King Neptune thinks you need, and maybe you need nothing. And in the spirit of full disclosure, I received some of these in a mangrove, not solely on the beach. Both salt water though.

This previous post on a found item featured a wood carving pulled from mangroves. Their roots act like fingers and hold on to all sorts of flotsam and jetsam, whereas on a beach the tide can pull things back out to the deep. It began on a nice quiet weekday outing to Matheson Hammock Park, looking for interesting things to photograph. First I found this unusual rock. It’s very light and quite porous; almost like pumice. These kinds of rocks are not seen in South Florida. We do have lots of fossil coral and some coquina (fascinating stuff), but nothing pumice-y at all. I’ll have to put it under a magnifier to see if I can find shell fragments. It just spoke to me, so light and feathery it is!

Pumice-like rock

Pumice-like rock

Next I walked along the beach, covered in green algae and various seaweeds (me, not the beach). And this little beauty was just there with no other bones keeping it company.

It has to be a fish vertebra from a good-sized animal. It’s about .75″ across, and almost sculptural in appearance. Is it not a vertebra? What else could those cup-like ends do but protect the spinal cord passing through?

Fish vertabra

Fish vertabra

I had a motive for visiting the water this day. I got a waterproof camera for Christmas and was looking for any way to try it out, even if it meant just sticking my hand in at the water’s edge. I was looking for plants or anything really in a little saltwater canal, and still can’t believe I found this:

Another fish vertebra

Another fish vertebra

Another vertebra, perfect and white. How was I able to spot this laying in sand under a couple feet of water? I was meant to. Isn’t it exquisite? The photo doesn’t do it justice; it’s just so perfectly formed and odd-looking. I ponder this bit of calcium and wonder what fish it resided in.

Now the fun at the mangroves starts. Kids and parents started to stare at the weird guy poking around and staring at the muddy mangroves, sticking something into the water every so often. I don’t even recall finding this. It’s a dense plastic, and has some marine growth cemented to parts. There is something strangely beautiful and forlorn about this headless maquette. What was it in life?

Headless horseman, headless horse

Headless horseman, headless horse

And the fun continued when I was drawn to a little green blob among mud and algae. How did I find this?! It’s actually two house keys melded together with corrosion and patina. I imagine it took many, many years to get like this. Someone must have looked desperately for them, or maybe they opened the doors of a house no longer owned, the former owner angrily throwing them into Poseidon’s purse. These gifts fascinate me. And I couldn’t buy that if I tried.

The Key

The Keys

Oh and at any rate, here are a few of the underwater shots I set out to take.

Underwater tryptych with mosquito fish

Underwater tryptych with mosquito fish

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This entry was posted on January 31, 2013 by in bones, Discovery, exploration, imaging, nature, Ocean, photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .

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