Seabeans make beautiful jewelry when they are properly polished. Above are seabean bracelets my wife bought at the International Seabean Symposium held each October in Cocoa Beach, Florida.
Right in the middle of the above photo you can see a sea coconut with several goose barnacles on it. It is tucked into the Sargassum in the beach wrack. This is exactly where I found it. Some are covered up with Sargassum and not so easily seen.
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Who Collects Seabeans?
Above is a Hamburger bean (left) and a sea coconut, both seeds from a tropical rain forest vine. The sea coconut is not actually a coconut, nor is it related to the coconut.
Seabeans are usually found in the wrack. Beach wrack is the line of debris, usually dominated by Sargassum seaweed, deposited on the beach at the tide line. The seabeans float with the Sargassum and wash ashore with it. To find the beans, you have to pick through the wrack. The wrack contains all kinds of stuff, some of which can sting you, or which may harbor bacteria, so you should use a stick or beach rake.
Above you can see a clump of Sargassum that is about to come ashore with the surf along Florida’s Atlantic coast. It probably has several nice seabeans hiding in it!
What Do Seabeans Look Like?
Above is a good reason to use a stick or beach rake to pick through the beach wrack when searching for seabeans. You can clearly see the blue/purple translucent bubble float of the Portuguese man-of-war jellyfish. The man-of-war also blows ashore with the Sargassum and is often tangled and buried in it. It can give you a nasty sting even after it is dead and dried up.
The seabeans that wash up on Florida beaches usually begin their life in a tropical rain forest as a flowering vine, shrub or tree. The fruit or seed pod of the plant falls to the forest floor and is washed by heavy rains into a stream or river. It is then carried out to sea, where it may float on the surface of the sea and drift with the ocean currents for many years before washing up onto a beach as a "seabean." For this reason, seabeans are often referred to as "drift seeds." Collectors sometimes refer to themselves as "drifters."
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