Page 29 - June2017

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Photos courtesy of Katherine Pollock
The sargassum corrals the beans at
sea and they both float in together.
The sea beans do not originate
from the sargassum, but the
best place to find them on
the beach is within these
washed up beds. Avid
beachcombers love
it when the seagrass
arrives. This year, it began
washing ashore in late
February, bringing in more
beans with every batch.
Check the new sargassum as well
as the older dried out seagrass closer
to the dunes. Often the beans have been
buried in the thick grass and when it dries out
hidden beans show up. After a good rain is the
perfect time to look for them because the wet beans are
shinier and contrast with the dull seagrass.
The beans come from all over the world which is what makes them so
fun to find, and the most common sea bean finds to Galveston fall within
four categories. The heart-shaped
Entada gigas
, appropriately dubbed Sea
Hearts, are from a Monkey Ladder vine native to Costa Rica. Hamburger
beans, which come from several species of
Mucuna
native to the West
Indies, are flatter and circular and feature striations of beige and brown that
resemble a hamburger patty between two buns. Sea Coconuts, or
Manicaria
saccifera,
are from Central and South America and are perfectly spherical
which makes them look like miniature coconuts. Mary’s Beans (
Merremia
discodesperma
) grow in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean basin;
the seeds appear to have the image of a cross impressed upon them.
Other, rarer beans are highly sought-after and include Little Marbles,
also known as Oxy’s (
Oxyrhynchus
volubilis
), and two specific species
of Hamburger beans: The
Mucuna holtonii
nearly black in color, much
darker than the more common hamburger beans, and the Thick-Banded
Mucuna (
Mucuna elliptica
), which features an oblong shape as opposed to
circular. Locating one of these three makes for a very special beachcombing
endeavor.
Sea beans can be cleaned and polished then made into beautiful jewelry or
just displayed in a bowl as a conversation piece. Once claimed, rinse them
in cool water and allow to dry completely. For easiest results, use a rock
tumbler to bring the beans to a brilliant sheen, or
polish them manually with fine-grit sandpaper.
Overall, Galveston shores boast between thirty
and forty species of sea beans. For even more
details on sea beans identification, SeaBean.com
provides an excellent reference, as does the book
Sea Beans from the Tropics
by Ed Perry IV and
John. V. Dennis, an invaluable resource for any
beachcomber.
To involve yourself socially and view the
impressive collections of combers from all over
the country, mark your calendars for October
Polished sea coconuts
Polished sea hearts
hamburger beans
sea coconuts
JUNE 2017 |
GALVESTON MONTHLY |
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