My friend Lucy is running a project about 'what the sea means to you'...and I thought I'd use this space to try and get my thoughts some bit straight on the subject; it's something that I've been mulling over in my mind since she first mentioned the book project a few months ago.
For me, as a beach comber rather than, say, a diver or sailor, the sea is full of conflicting thoughts. It can bring precious treasures - such as all these sea beans (seeds carried on the gulf stream from the tropics). Each one has been measured, photographed and documented and will be on the Irish records.
At the same time, the very same storms and currents that bring treasure also bring marine litter - mostly plastic based and sometimes from the other side of the world too.
I think it's my nature, as a beach comber, to try and find the interesting, the intriguing and the mysterious in amongst the plastic junk that comes to these shores.
At times it is over-whelming: especially when faced with a scene like this...
Last winter I collected over 150 bags of rubbish from the local beaches! It really is a never ending battle as each tide brings in yet more rubbish but as long as I am physically able I am determined to do my bit and collect it up.
Something that has ended up in the ocean off the US/Canadian coast can wash up on the coast here in Waterville and through the wonders of social media and the internet, I can trace it right back to the company who made it or in some cases, the fishermen who lost their gear in storms.