We truly believe beachcombing is one of the best hobbies for families and friends of all ages. It gets you outdoors, it is exciting - never knowing what you will find, and it can also be a great way to delve into your home town's history. Best of all, it is FREE!
With more and more people taking beachcombing up as a hobby, it is increasingly important for us to be aware of the impact this has on the environment. We also have a responsibility towards other beachgoers, taking care not to ruin anyone else's experience.
We have put together some guidelines that we try to follow when at the beach. Some of them are echoed in our top tips for How to find Tideline Treasure, but a friendly reminder now and again is never a bad thing...
Please note: This is by no means a guide to beach safety. The RNLI have some great advice for beach safety here, so check it out.
Respect the Locals
Our coastlines are teaming with life - sea creatures, birds, coastal plants...
Spending a bit of time googling what creatures you might find at your local beaches can be really interesting. It can also help you know how to avoid disturbing the local residents during your next trip to the seaside...
This could range from watching where you step, to being aware of noise levels, to keeping your dog on a lead. A great tip is to avoid disturbing large stones/rocks, to avoid upsetting the creatures living beneath them.
Don't Feed the Wildlife
Following on from number 1, this is really important. Feeding birds and animals can lead to change in their natural behaviours, making them more vulnerable, and food that isn't part of their natural diet can result in some serious health problems for our coastal critters.
Here is a great article about why you should not feed seagulls.
Take only empty shells
Sea creatures that live in shells need to relocate to bigger homes as they grow. By collecting all the perfect sea shells, we could be limiting their options!
Try to only take shells that are broken or imperfect, and always make sure any shells you do take home are empty. Imagine someone taking your house home in their pocket, with you still inside!
Here is a great BBC video showing hermit crabs swapping shells...
Respect Other Beachgoers
It can be extremely tempting to dig for treasure, especially when someone else has just found a particularly rare find on your beach. But digging can ravage a beach and make the experience less enjoyable for other beachcombers, as well as disturbing and/or possibly distressing local plants and animals.
One of our favourite beaches for sea glass is also a popular wildlife watching spot. More than once we have been guilty of wandering head down along the shore, obstructing people's view and being a general distraction. Using common sense and being aware of others generally sees us right!
I am all for taking a furry friend to the beach for walkies. We can often be found on the beach with four crazy cocker spaniels. But if, like us, you get obsessively focused on finding the next bit of treasure, you may not always be aware of what your beloved pet is up to. They might be annoying other beachcombers (Hamish), chasing other dogs (Barney), running off and disturbing the wildlife (Fred) or just generally causing havoc (Nellie).
Remember to check that dogs are allowed on your beach, as seasonal bans apply to some beaches throughout the UK. Always pick up your dog poo and dispose of it in an appropriate bin. Be aware of the potential dangers for your dog, including dangerous currents and aggressive locals - seals DO NOT like dogs!
The Beach Guide has lots of information about which UK beaches are dog-friendly!
Echoed in How to find Tideline Treasure, this is an important one. All beaches have their own dangers, from unstable cliffs, to cut-off spots that will leave you stranded when the tide comes in, to dangerous creatures that live there (sand dunes can be good homes for snakes!) A quick google search should tell you what you need to know before you go, to make sure your experience is as enjoyable as possible. Always make sure you check tide times.
With the impact of plastic waste in our oceans currently a hot topic in the media, this feels like something that shouldn't even need to be mentioned. Sadly, I don't know if I have ever been to a beach and not found at least 1 item of rubbish. Take note people, the rest of us don't want to see your rubbish on our beaches!
Go The Extra Mile
It is so easy to combine your beachcombing hobby with a bit of conservation work at the same time! Next time you go treasure hunting, just take 2 bags - one for your beach treasure, 1 to collect any rubbish you come across. Visit #2minutebeachclean for more information and to shop for products that will help you reduce your single use plastic consumption.
Are there any rules you stick to at the beach? I would love to hear them - let me know in the comments below.