Combing our beaches with Tracy and Margaret

beachcomb_0Some of us see broken shells and washed up seaweed. Beachcombers see shark teeth and sea beans. Others see leftover trash and forgotten toys. Beachcombers see collections and treasures. Many walk the beach for exercise and relaxation and to find a souvenir shell. Beachcombers walk the beach with an eye for the unique. They often find useful and interesting items to add to artistic pieces and collections. And even more often, beachcombers find little-seen creatures that have washed in to shore.

When you walk the beaches of Bolivar, you’ll most certainly find two local beachcombers: Tracy Barnett and Margaret Lindow, longtime Bolivar residents and veteran explorers. Lovers of the unique, they add to their collections daily.

Last summer, Tracy’s passion led her to create the Bolivar Beachcombers page on Facebook and now has over 7000 members. Photos and descriptions of finds are posted daily by members all over. Tracy’s beachcombing collection has been growing for a few years now, all post Ike. Tracy recalls, “except for my shark teeth…I took those during evacuation!”

Margaret has a love for her findings and an artistic touch to turn washed up trash into something new and beautiful. One man’s trash (or left-behind plastic bottle), is another man’s treasure.

Margaret Lindow and Tracy Barnett, veteran explorers and lovers of the unique.

Margaret Lindow and Tracy Barnett, veteran explorers and lovers of the unique.

Margaret's house is a museum of  beachcombing items. Here she is showing the collection of bottles found washed up on the beach.

Margaret’s house is a museum of beachcombing items. Here she is showing the collection of bottles found washed up on the beach.

This is an egg capsule, creatively called a mermaid's purse, a casing that surrounds the fertilized eggs of some sharks and skates.

This is an egg capsule, creatively called a mermaid’s purse, a casing that surrounds the fertilized eggs of some sharks and skates.

A collection of various sea beans, all washed and shiny. Sea beans are prized finds for many beachcombers.

A collection of various sea beans, all washed and shiny. Sea beans are prized finds for many beachcombers.

Trays full of disposable lighters, sea glass, fishing tackle, and sea beans - Margaret's collections of collections.

Trays full of disposable lighters, sea glass, fishing tackle, and sea beans – Margaret’s collections of collections.

Washing station: collect, sort, and rinse.

Washing station: collect, sort, and rinse.

Tracy found this "walking stick" with teeth marks, thought to be from a beaver dam.

Tracy found this “walking stick” with teeth marks, thought to be from a beaver dam.

A bucket full of shark teeth along with a few fish vertebrae.

A bucket full of shark teeth along with a few fish vertebrae.

Tracy's treasures, a small glass medicine bottle in a dish full of assorted items, shark teeth and lots of sea beans.

Tracy’s treasures, a small glass medicine bottle in a dish full of assorted items, shark teeth and lots of sea beans.

Tracy's most memorable find, a clovis point arrow head.

Tracy’s most memorable find, a clovis point arrow head.

Dolphin vertebrae, an uncommon find for a beachcomber.

Dolphin vertebrae, an uncommon find for a beachcomber.

Margaret's terrarium of "first finds", a prominent display of how it all began and how it continues to expand.

Margaret’s terrarium of “first finds”, a prominent display of how it all began and how it continues to expand.

Beach art: palm fronds cut and decorated into colorful bouquets.

Beach art: palm fronds cut and decorated into colorful bouquets.

Plastic bottles recycled and shaped into flowers. One man's trash (or left-behind plastic bottle), is another man's treasure.

Plastic bottles recycled and shaped into flowers. One man’s trash (or left-behind plastic bottle), is another man’s treasure.

Margaret and Tracy have a passion for removing plastic debris from the ocean. Margaret says, "Ninety percent of all marine life, when found dead, have bits of plastic in their system."

Margaret and Tracy have a passion for removing plastic debris from the ocean. Margaret says, “Ninety percent of all marine life, when found dead, have bits of plastic in their system.”

Fossilized shells embedded in rock.

Fossilized shells embedded in rock.

Many finds are along the dunes, deposited by the high tides and beach cleaning equipment.

Many finds are along the dunes, deposited by the high tides and beach cleaning equipment.

Also look for treasures along the wrack line, the line of debris left by the receding high tide.

Also look for treasures along the wrack line, the line of debris left by the receding high tide.

To the untrained eye, a sea bean is difficult to spot.

To the untrained eye, a sea bean is difficult to spot.

As Tracy and Margaret explained their many finds and experiences beachcombing, a little blue dinosaur emerged out of the edge of the surf. When they turned to see it, a small wave stood it up on its feet.

As Tracy and Margaret explained their many finds and experiences beachcombing, a little blue dinosaur emerged out of the edge of the surf. When they turned to see it, a small wave stood it up on its feet.

An assortment of treasures and trash, a good beachcombing day for Tracy.

An assortment of treasures and trash, a good beachcombing day for Tracy.

For the beachcombing enthusiasts and those eager to learn more, the 21st Annual International Sea-Bean Symposium will be held in Galveston this October 14-15. The symposium features sea bean displays, contests, and presentations. And also this October, Gallery by the Gulf will feature Beachcomber Art.

Margaret and Tracy love to add to their collections of collections. But perhaps most of all, they hope to encourage others to see the beauty in these washed-up items. Enjoy the beaches we all love, and keep Bolivar beautiful.
[8-2-2016]

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