Genuine, Artificial and Altered Sea Glass

“When any true item becomes of value, a faux or artificial product is not far behind.” –Mary Beth Beuke “Genuine Vs. Artificial Sea Glass: Why It’s Important

It is the mission of the North American Sea Glass Association (NASGA) to educate collectors and consumers about pure, natural sea glass. NASGA requires that its commercial members “leave sea glass in its natural state and do not create imitation sea glass; meaning that the sea glass will not be altered by, acid etching, sand blasting, tumbling, or by any other means so as to artificially replicate genuine sea glass.” This article is provided to provide information to consumers in order to help identify some of the differences between genuine, imitation and altered sea glass.

At the North American Sea Glass Festival and certain other festivals where noted, only genuine sea glass is allowed. At some events, craft glass and other altered sea glass is used and it is up to the consumer to determine what they’re buying.  NASGA feels our commercial member artists who create only using genuine glass can’t compete with those using those much less expensive materials. Ideally, as long as vendors at various regional sea glass and coastal festivals don’t label their items “pure,” “genuine,” or “wave-tumbled” sea glass it’s not a huge problem because essentially they can use any materials they want. But consumers should know what they’re buying. Sometimes it can be easy for people to tell the difference between real or tumbled glass, and sometimes it can’t, especially online.

The number in manufacturers of artificial sea glass has grown in recent years as demand for pure sea glass has increased and its supply has dwindled. Beaches are overpicked, with more and more people hunting for sea glass. Entire businesses have been created in which “sea glass” is being created nowhere near the sea by savvy individuals with a good working knowledge of what real sea glass should look like. Some of the manufacturers of eco-friendly or “green” glass very clearly label their product this way and make it clear to consumers that what’s being purchased is not glass from the sea, and some do not.

Many producers trying to pass off non-genuine sea glass as real go to a great deal of trouble to make the counterfeits look natural. Unlike the rock tumblers of the past that made fake glass easier to spot, they’re using advanced tumbling, sandblasting and acid-washing processes that give glass a similar appearance to real sea glass, and buyers think if they see the “c” marks and white-coated “frosting” layer on glass, it must be real, and this isn’t always the case. Sometimes manufacturers purchase vintage glass (including marbles, perfume stoppers or figurines) from antique stores or other venues and put the glass into cement mixers or even cages in the ocean and let it tumble around for a period of time, then sell it online in Facebook groups, Etsy shops and on eBay as real sea glass.

Feeling the glass in your hand is often the best way to tell real from fake because textural differences in the surface make the consistency of genuine sea glass in your hand nearly impossible for a machine to reproduce. The depth of the pitting in the surface of genuine glass is something that goes nearly to the center of the glass that historically spent time in the body of water; while in a tumbled piece, only the surface has been made smooth, leaving a shallower appearance to the glass. Real hydration over time in a natural body of water in random wave patterns will always leave a different finish on a piece of glass than anything a machine or artificial process can produce.

Unfortunately, people are spending a lot of money on fake sea glass at shows, in shops and online every day and may not know the item they have purchased is not genuine sea glass. Here are some things to consider.

Signs the “sea glass” you’re buying might be fake:

  1. Does the seller keep selling similar batches of the same rare styles and colors and shapes of glass over long periods of time with hundreds of sales? No beach in the world produces endless hundreds of pounds of rare colors in repeated jewelry quality perfect shapes and sizes.
  2. How trustworthy is the seller? Did they beachcomb the glass themselves or purchase it from another party? Do you know them personally? The sea glass community is small enough that if you want to buy, often someone can point you in the right direction (whether it’s a Facebook group or reputable eBay seller known by a friend) without having to buy from complete strangers. Only buy from people you trust. This is simply the best way to know you are buying genuine glass. Reviews on eBay and Etsy are not always the best way to get information, since people have been buying fake glass and not knowing it for a long time from many sellers.
  3. If you’ve bought a piece you suspect is fake, does it feel unusually smooth compared to other pieces in your collection? Sea glass often has a rougher texture to it after tumbling in the ocean. Fake glass is more likely to have an odd perfect satiny sheen on it. However, this can often depend on which beach it comes from as sea glass surfaces depend on ph levels in the body of water. For example, sea glass from different parts of the world can have a more satiny sheen. There is still a difference between the finish in the glass from these beaches and the glass a machine tumbler produces- the main clue being the similarity in shape and size and color across batches. So texture can be one clue to determine genuine glass, but is not always the best one since some beaches do produce silkier glass. If you hold a handful of genuine glass in one hand and a handful of tumbler glass in the other, you can feel the difference in a very clear way. At NASGA’s annual show, educational samples showing the difference between genuine and manufactured glass are available to help you learn the difference.
  4. Another way to spot sea glass that’s been in a tumbler is tiny diamond “glints” on the surface. If you turn the piece in your hand, often the tiny “cuts” will catch the light and will reflect in a diamond-like glinting fashion that pure sea glass generally does not. (This feature can be found on genuine sea glass sporadically because of the way it broke in the surf, but if you are holding a handful of fake glass, you can find these glints consistently across the pieces).
  5. It is very difficult to tell genuine from fake glass, especially in photos. Knowing your seller (and whether they have beachcombed the glass themselves or know exactly who did) is key! Keep in mind that when you buy sea glass from North American Sea Glass Association members, you can be certain they are required to sell only genuine sea glass, so ask if the seller is a member of NASGA.

In addition to manufactured fake glass, other methods are used to alter sea glass from its original form. Some are allowed by NASGA as part of our commercial memberships and some are not. For example, the drilling of sea glass in order to create a jewelry piece is not restricted, because this method is used by the artist in order to create the piece of jewelry and it is also clear to the consumer that a hole has been drilled, so no effort to cover up the alteration has been made. Similarly, some artists paint on top of the surface of sea glass in an artistic manner. For example, artistic renderings of sea life are depicted on the top of a piece of white sea glass. This is also allowed since the alteration of the sea glass is clear to the consumer purchasing the art piece.

A newer method of altering sea glass called “colorization” has entered the industry in which sea glass is permanently altered using a chemical process from the backside of a piece of white sea glass (see photo on the left), which is then placed into a bezel setting and sold as genuine sea glass. Also “staining” (see two photos on the right) sea glass is taking place where the color of white sea glass is changed in a dyeing process. It is the opinion of NASGA that since the color is being presented to the consumer as an “illusion” this violates our guideline that commercial members should “leave sea glass in its natural state and not create imitation sea glass”and that “sea glass will not be altered by …any other means so as to artificially replicate genuine sea glass.”  These artificially created colors have the potential to confuse consumers both at sea glass shows and online since in a bezel setting or (with staining) even loose, individuals cannot tell the difference between genuine and artificial colors, especially when natural sea glass colors are being replicated.

It is the opinion of NASGA that sale of colorized sea glass undermines sale of genuine rare and common sea glass colors by artisans and sea glass hunters who obtain these colors in natural bodies of water and that this glass should not be labeled “genuine” since it has been permanently, irreversibly altered and therefore does not represent genuine colors found in glassmaking history.

Beachcombing Stoneware Sea Pottery

by Connor O’Brien

The majority of sea glass originates from mass produced utilitarian vessels, while tableware and art glass are less common sources. The same can be said about sea pottery. Yet due to the immense variety of ceramics, identifying sea worn fragments can be particularly challenging. A good way to start is by classifying shards into one of three categories: earthenware, stoneware, or porcelain. Ceramics are grouped into these categories based on the density and firing temperature of the clay. The clay mixture and body of a ceramic is referred to as paste, whereas the surface coating is known as glaze. Grouping ceramics by paste type is the first step in identifying the origin of a shard, and learning to distinguish different pastes and glazes is crucial to making accurate identifications. (Figure 1)

Figure 1. A small representation of earthenware, stoneware and porcelain. All three types are variable in color, appearance, and texture, so the best way to identify them is to learn the feeling of the differences simply by handling them.
Top row: Red earthenware fragments, brick and terracotta. The color of earthenware can range from cream white to red, dark gray or tan, depending on minerals in the clay used. It is distinguished from stoneware and porcelain by its relatively low firing temperature, porous and less dense paste.
Middle row: stoneware jug fragments. Stoneware is nonporous, hard and compact, fine textured but not glassy like porcelain. It requires a medium to high firing temperature but does not need glaze to be watertight. However stoneware is often glazed with salt or decorative slip glazes. Slip glazes are glazes comprised of clay in water, applied by dipping or washing the ceramic vessel.
Bottom row: Porcelain fragments distinguishable by the very hard dense body, vitreous nature and white color. Porcelain can be glazed and decorated in a variety of ways.

Investigating traditional and regionally relevant ceramics is a great place to start when studying sea pottery. Understanding the history of production is also very helpful when it comes to identifying and dating shards. For beachcombers in North America, especially those on the shores of the Great Lakes and east coast, stoneware is a common source of sea pottery because it was once popular and locally produced. With basic knowledge of vessel shapes and glaze types it is possible to know the origins of these stoneware fragments, despite the fact that they are highly altered from their original form. An immense variety of products were available in stoneware, the most common being jugs and pots. Learning to recognize the characteristics of these forms is another important part of identifying sea pottery. (Figures 2-5)

Figure 2. Stoneware sea pottery with distinct features.
Top Row: Decorative cobalt glaze applied to an incised design. Decorative cobalt glaze applied with a sponge, known as spongeware. Decorative cobalt glaze applied to a sculpted pattern. Decorative dot band applied with a rolling tool.
Middle Row: Slip glazed shard exhibiting pop out, a defect formed during the firing process. Slip glazed shard from a jug neck, the curve of the neck influences how the glaze is weathered. Slip glazed shard with concentric lines, small surface ripples left by the potter influence the exposure of glaze to abrasive forces.
Bottom Row: Dark colored Albany type slip glaze, the use of this glaze can date shards as early as 1860. Boarder between Albany type and Bristol type glazes, use of both glaze types dates shards before 1915. Light colored Bristol type glaze, use on both the interior and exterior dates shards after 1915. Note that these dates are approximate generalizations not strict limits.


Figure 3. Stoneware jugs are arguably the most common source of stoneware sea pottery. These containers were made in many capacities and styles, and used for storing and selling liquids in bulk; they commonly held molasses, honey, syrup, vinegar, liquor, cooking wine, and chemicals. Similar to glass bottles, stoneware jugs have many features that can provide identifying information, such as the handle, shoulder, closure, and base. One jug may produce dozens or even hundreds of sea pottery shards, and a single shard can be used to make an accurate identification. Stoneware shards can also be confidently matched by paying close attention to paste and glaze. The shards pictured here undoubtedly originate from the same jug. Although found at different times, each occurred in the same area of the beach and have a distinct feel and appearance that suggests a shared origin.


Figure 4. The mark of a twisted wire pulled in a loop in order to cut the vessel from the wheel. Subtle markings such as this can be used as clues to gain information about the shards origins, as well as the processes used to create it.


Figure 5: Squeezed clay lines resulting from clay being compressed into a mold, an indication that the original vessel of this shard was made by mold.

Stoneware ceramics in North America began with immigrants from Germany, England, and France who brought the craft over seas in the 17th and 18th centuries. Colonists continued to import English and German stoneware well into the 19th century, yet over many generations of master and apprentice, ceramic artisans blended old world techniques and styles to develop a distinctively American variety of stoneware. The earliest American stoneware was made from scratch in small batches and distributed locally. These ceramics were often plainly salt glazed, crudely shaped, and occasionally decorated with cobalt motifs. The nature of ceramics allowed for artistic expression, stoneware creations were individually handmade and often intentionally embellished with a personal touch. For these reasons collectors regard 17th and 18th century American stoneware as a folk art. The uniqueness and relative scarcity of these vessels make them a rare source of sea pottery that is difficult to trace. (Figure 6)

Figure 6. The appearance of plain salt glazing is often compared to the texture of an orange peal. The color of salt glazing is variable but commonly brown or gray. Plain salt glazing typically dates shards prior to the 20th century. This shard originates from a salt glazed ceramic water pipe, which was a common form of plumbing and drainage throughout the 19th century.

Potters’ firms and their networks grew alongside the development and expansion of the United States. By the 19th century utilitarian stoneware was an essential part of everyday life and potteries were established all across the country. Potters were able to obtain better and more consistent materials, improve their shaping techniques, as well as distribute their wares beyond local communities. These advancements, paired with the increasing demand for American stoneware, lead to a transition from small family businesses to unified potters’ firms. Individuals who specialized in specific tasks of an assembly line began to replace the tradition of master and apprentice. By the turn of the 19th century, the demands for American stoneware were met by the mass production of simple and uniformly slip glazed vessels commonly known today as crocks or crockery. (Figure 7)

Figure 7. Stoneware vessels typical of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Markings such as words, stamps, and capacity numbers can be used to help make precise identifications. Drips from the slip glazing process are indicative of the dipping used to apply the glaze. The combination of Albany type interior and upper exterior with Bristol type on the bottom exterior was a fashionable design that declined in popularity after 1915.

The quantity and consistency of mass produced vessels is what makes them common and identifiable. Glaze type can be used to date stoneware to a relative era (Figure 2). The iconic two-toned stoneware with brown Albany type glaze on top and white Bristol type glaze on the bottom began to replace plain salt glazed stoneware during the mid 19th and early 20th century. By the 1920’s, stoneware glazed entirely in white Bristol glaze was favored for the sanitary appearance and easy to clean surface. The great depression effectively ended the era of American stoneware, though it has been continually produced, it can be assumed that most fragments of stoneware sea pottery are near or over a century old. With basic knowledge of these ceramics even ambiguous shards are relatively identifiable. When dating sea found shards, the context and history of the beach is equally important as the history of the fragment and may help provide a more accurate identification. A perfect way to display these beachcombed shards is to store them in a stoneware vessel, such as an open container. (Figure 8)

Figure 8. A perfect way to display stoneware sea pottery is to store it inside a stoneware container. Adding a false bottom using cardboard and covering it with a thin layer of shards is an easy way to make an attractive display. Stoneware pots come in many forms and sizes and also make a good depository for storing shards in bulk.


Works Cited: Greer, Georgeanna H., Chris Williams, and Tina Griesenbeck. American Stonewares: The Art and Craft of Utilitarian Potters. Exton: Schifftler, 1981. Print.

Connor O’Brien lives in Maine and is a college student and an avid sea glass and sea pottery collector.

Happy New Year!

seaglass party marblesHappy 2016 sea glass hunters of the World!   We’ve been busy organizing for the 2016 North American Sea Glass Festival in Ocean City, Maryland on August 26th and 27th.   Plans are underway for a festive VIP preview party on Friday evening, which will grant attendees exclusive first access to the artists and authors participating in the festival. Details will be released as soon as possible, so be sure to stay tuned to our website and Facebook Pages, NASGA Facebook Page and NASGA Sea Glass Festival page.  It’s going to be a great time!

As always, the 2016 North American Sea Glass Festival will have much to offer the whole family on Saturday, featuring expert presentations on the history and collection of genuine sea glass. The Shard of the Year Contest will offer opportunities to enter your authentic beach finds to win cash prizes.

We have a few new members on the NASGA Board and we’ll be posting the Board of Directors on a post soon!

Cheers to you and yours for a wonderful New Year!

Special meaning in lost sea glass necklace treasure

We heard about Lyn Koch’s mission to find her lost necklace and thought the NASGA community could help her find it.  Please read on to find out how you can help her and the special meaning to her lost treasure.

Lyn and Mike Koch
Lyn and Mike Koch

Lyn Koch is searching for her precious sea glass necklace, a necklace lost a year ago in the Orlando Airport…and could be anywhere on the planet.

The special necklace probably means little to the person who found it, but means the world to Lyn, and the memories associated with the piece make it precious to Lyn.  The necklace is a heart-shaped piece of sea glass wrapped in wire and strung on a chain.

The missing necklace- red, white and blue...a special treasure
The missing necklace- red, white and blue…a special treasure

It was found by Lyn’s husband, Mike, who found the piece of glass a little more than two years ago during a trip to Italy. The couple collected sea glass whenever they had the chance. They always planned on turning it into jewelry, though they had yet to complete any projects.   The sea glass was frosted white with a touch of red, the color of Mike’s birth stone, and aqua, the birth stone of a child they had lost at birth.   The found piece was special, but would become even more special a few months later.

Mike on a vacation searching for sea glass

The couple returned from their vacation, and Mike went to the doctor to check on some leg pain that had started troubling him shortly before the trip. What doctors found was cancer so advanced it was causing his bones to break. Mike died 65 days later at the age of 66.

Months later, while reminiscing the last time she and her husband were enjoying life in Italy, Lyn remembered the sea glass piece that brought them so much joy, and her wonderful memories came flooding back.  It was then that Lyn decided to turn it into a pendant to keep close to her heart.

Lyn wore the necklace almost constantly until about a year ago, when she took a trip to Disney World with her brother. She was changing quickly in an airport bathroom, trying to catch a flight on which she was flying standby, and she set the necklace aside. In her rush to get to her plane, she left the necklace behind.

Lyn spent the next week calling the Orlando airport in tears every day, but nobody ever turned the necklace in. There was a flight to Zurich leaving from the gate next to the bathroom. And there were many other flights departing around that time. The necklace could have gone anywhere.

Lyn was losing hope, when her friend decided to help and has made it a mission to help Lyn find the precious treasure.   We’re doing this article to help Lyn find her necklace…read her interview below:

NASGA: Can you share the excitement and circumstance the day Mike discovered the special sea glass piece in Italy?

Lyn:    I do have to share, that on the day that he found the sea glass, we had no idea that his body was being filled with cancer. His leg started to hurt just before we left, as a result of testing out a pair of shoes that he purchased for the trip. His leg bothered him the whole time.  When we got home, we learned his leg had started to fracture. Upon further investigation, we learned he had rapid, aggressive cancer. December 21, 2012, we learned he had fatal cancer.  65 days later he passed away.

On November 3, 2012 on our vacation in Italy, we were on the Amalfi Coast.  We had taken a bus tour there, as the road was not for the faint of heart.  The town, Amalfi, was known for it’s pottery. It is such a beautiful town and equally beautiful day.  Set right in the mountain. We had half a day to spend there.  So of course the beach is always a draw.  And of course, we would “hunt” for treasures.  Several pieces of worn pottery had washed up on shore which we collected.  We had the habit of collecting a few pieces and then come together to share our treasures. But when Mike found that piece, he called me over.  “Lyn, look at this!” I thought maybe he was holding our favorite aqua or baby blue glass.  I had never seen anything like it (nor have I since).  I told him that when we got home, I was going to have it made into a necklace (I have never had any pieces we found made into jewelry)…..

I’ll share in a later question what made that glass even more amazing and more special than I could ever imagine.

NASGA:   When asking you for an interview, you loved a tag line on my email signature “Life is Just Like a Wave, You Can’t Change the Way it Breaks, Just the Way You Ride it”.  You mentioned those words described your life now, do you feel you’re getting strong enough to ride those waves?

Lyn:      Ha Ha, it depends on the day.  Mike was a fighter.  Till two hours before he died, he fought to live.  I think only then it occurred to him, “hmmm I don’t think I’m going to beat this thing”.  I guess I’m trying to follow his example.  Wouldn’t it be such a loose to not live this beautiful life in honor of Mike.  To not focus on all we have been given, to not appreciate my kids, grandkids, family, friends because I lost Mike?  I determined the day after Mike died, that I would get up every day.  I would look for the good, I would allow myself to grieve deeply, but not be overcome. Many days are filled with tears as memories roll down my checks.  As I write this, I am on a two day little trip to Duluth, MN on Lake Superior. Our honeymoon town (would have been 46 years). And as the years went by a place we always loved to use as our get a way.  I come here every now and then to feel the memories up close.  I can almost feel him here.  It is our place.  Today I found two pieces of sea glass, which we rarely found up here since the shore is all rocks.  It is a bittersweet time.  As to your question, this place is a place that makes me stronger.  Yes I feel strong enough….today…

NASGA:  You have been searching for your lost necklace for over a year now, do you think you will find it one day? 

Lyn:     Yes.  When the airplane took off from the Orlando Airport, where I left my necklace, I thought it was gone forever.  One day a good friend of mine said, “I have an idea to find your necklace.  It’s a five year plan though, and then she started contacting newspapers (only my local paper has written about it, but that is how I met all you sea glass folks).  We have done some Facebook requests to share.  We have gotten the word out to family and friends.  It is slowly growing.  And everywhere we go we look for it.  However, I basically feel it will come back to me, because of my Faith.  I just believe it will…partly because of why Mike found it…because it was so special.  It was a gift to me from Above, at a time when I needed it the most.  I’ll explain in the next question….

NASGA:  As collectors ourselves, we know how exciting it is to find a special piece of sea glass, many with special meanings, too, so your story strikes a cord with all sea glass collectors.   Do you feel that any of your other pieces you and Mike collected together are special enough to replace the piece that was lost?

Lyn:     I wish I could say yes, but the answer is no.  As fellow sea glass collectors, you know every piece is special, well maybe not the browns and common greens haha, but we have never found any piece like this.  Here is the reason.  When Mike showed me this piece in the town of Amalfi, I had no idea of it’s importance.  When we got home from our trip, we started to deal with all the medical issues with Mike.  The piece of sea glass sat on the counter.  I never moved it.  I was too busy taking care of Mike, so critically ill.  The piece waited, seeming less important, a necklace was the last thing on my mind.  A month after Mike died, I took the sea glass to my local “Vintage Market”.  A cute shop in my little town, where I knew a gal could put together a necklace for me.   With tears I told her where it came from and it’s importance to me, however I wasn’t aware of how amazing it was.  I asked her to please don’t lose it. The day came, when it was done.  She said this a gift to you from me. She said I had a hard time getting the wire to wrap around the glass.  Then finally, when I realized it was a heart, the wire easily wrapped around it. I looked down at the glass as it was now around my neck.  I gasped.  I never realized it was a HEART.  If that weren’t enough, the baby blue color and the ruby color on the glass also were significant. I finally realized at that moment, that the blue was the birth stone of our stillborn son, born full term many years ago, and the ruby color was Mike’s birth stone!! And, even more significant, the fact that it was red, white and blue….we were married on Flag Day!!  A profound find…

NASGA:  Beachcombing has long been a therapeutic way to relieve the stress of the day and takes all your worries out to sea.  Do you still beachcomb?  Do you feel it brings you peace?

Lyn:     Oh yes.  If there is a beach, I’m looking.  This year I found a golf ball at two different locations.  I had a chuckle, Mike loved to golf.  Today, as I mentioned, I found two pieces.  Yes, it does bring me peace.  It is a comfort. Such a fun hobby…

NASGA:   You and Mike would collect sea glass during your travels, is there a favorite place that you would hunt for sea glass, besides Italy, that is special to you?   Is there another piece that you found that also has special meaning to you or offers a special reminder of your travels with Mike?

Lyn:    Three places gave us abundant “hauls”, we always had the place to ourselves.  (1) The first was in Okinawa, Japan.  It was about 8 years ago.  We walked a path in the brush, that ended in a cove.  We could have walked away with hundreds of pieces.  It was everywhere.  Beautiful colors.  Beautifully worn…”done” as we would call them.  So fun. (2) Another place is more accessible, if you are on Oahu, Hawaii.  We have been able to travel to Hawaii many times.  Delta benefits helped with that.  After breakfast, on our first morning, we would walk about two miles along the beach.  We found this place quit by accident on that walk. There is a reef in this location, AND great amounts of sea glass.  I went back there this year.  A bittersweet memory.  I didn’t find any glass, only a golf ball.  Haha.  I think I got there too early as the tide wasn’t out. (3) The last place is Hana, Maui. A local had told us about the horrific tidal wave that had come many years ago.  They had relatives who had died in the event.  In the bay, right in town, on that day, we looked for sea glass.  We mainly found some pottery that had washed up, just as the local had said happened all the time.

We have found only two pieces of red glass. We found two, on the same beach, Lanikai.  Also on Oahu.

Oh my goodness, even as I write this, I realize in answering this question, that the color is Mike’s birthstone.  I guess I’ll be going into my little town and asking my “Vintage Market” lady” (her business name is “Sistas With Bad Habits) to make me another necklace…

NASGA:  That’s wonderful that you found a new sea glass piece to treasure! Do you generally beachcomb alone, or do you have friends that accompany you on searches?

Lyn:      We would always search alone.  Most friends don’t even know what sea glass is. Now, however, I search with my Grandchildren.  It is such fun to teach them about these free, priceless, treasures…

NASGA:   In addition to sea glass, do you scout the beaches for other nautical treasures?

Lyn:     Not too often.  Only if there is not glass.  On a beach again in Hana, Maui, we found a beautiful piece of cotten fishing net.  Beautiful colors, aqua, green, blue.  I think it reminded us of the beautiful sea glass colors.  I still have it, in our bathroom…

NASGA:  Do you have another memorable beachcombing experience you can share with us?   And what did you find?

Lyn:     A month after Mike died, my kids took me to the Canary Island.  My grief was raw and barely beginning. Couples would walk by, just as Mike and I would walk the many beaches through the years.  It cut deep. Someone had made a heart of rocks from the beach.  A vehicle must have ridden over the heart, as it was now a broken heart, but the shape remained.  It was how I was feeling.  Now, my heart too is hurt, but the wonderful memories remain…

NASGA:   What are some of the beachcombing destinations included on your “bucket list”?

Lyn:    I’m going to Ireland with my niece this Summer…I’ll be hunting there.  Mike and I planned to visit New England, Myrtle Beach and Alaska. To be honest, I hadn’t planned a future life without Mike in it.  So I’m still working on a bucket list.  I’m sure I’ll figure it out.  In the mean time, I’ll keep hunting in Hawaii, as my daughter lives there…

NASGA:  Wonderful to hear you’ll visit Ireland, hoping you’ll be able to find some special Irish sea glass.  Aside from collecting, what are some of your other interests or hobbies? 

Lyn:    I love to watch my Grandchildren.  The scavenger in me also enjoys garage sales and thrift stores.  I sew, enjoy crafts and puzzles.  I love to travel.  Church and my faith hold it all together. Without Faith, Family and Friends, I would spend the day in bed, haha…

Missing necklace – Contact Lyn is found 612-281-4747
Contact Lyn Koch

Marine debris, the silent killer of the ocean

As a mission of NASGA, we work to assist other non-profit organizations to protect and restore the nations shorelines and waterways.  Recent studies have shown that although progress is being made, there is still so much to be done.

Our beaches and waterways are littered with “stuff” that doesn’t belong in them. Marine debris comes in many forms, ranging from small plastic cigarette butts toMarine debris from underwater
4,000-pound derelict fishing nets. Plastic bags, glass, metal, Styrofoam, tires, derelict fishing gear, and abandoned vessels are all examples of debris that often ends up in our waterways.


How is the United States trying to help clean up the oceans, waterways and beaches we all love?

Marine Debris Poster (4) AI9 The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has monitored marine debris since the Marine Debris Act was signed by Congress in 2006, and started the Marine Debris Program.  Marine debris, known as flotsam and jetsam, follows the oceans movement, through currents, following tides and eventually makes landfall.

One of the main types of marine debris that you hear about today is plastic marine debris. In many places, it is the main type of debris that you will see as you walk along a beach.   As common as they are on our beaches and in our homes, how much do you really know about plastics?

As society has developed new uses for plastics, the variety and quantity of plastic items found in the marine environment has increased dramatically.  Plastics can enter into the marine environment a number of ways: through ineffective or improper waste management, intentional or accidental dumping and littering on shorelines or at sea, or through storm water runoff. Eventually, these plastics will degrade into smaller and smaller pieces.

Plastics are used in many aspects of daily life and are a big part of our waste stream. Many plastics are colorful and will float in water, which makes plastic debris a very visible part of the marine debris problem. However, an accurate estimate does not yet exist for how much debris is composed of plastic materials.

Coral is the rainforest of the sea, and marine debris, especially large and heavy debris, can crush and damage coral. In the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, which has one of the healthiest and least disturbed coral reef ecosystems in the United States,has an estimated 52 tons of derelict fishing nets accumulate every year.


FfE-LogoThe nets that drift there can be enormous, and when tangled together, weigh hundreds of pounds! Commercial or recreational fishers have been helping corals out by disposing of unwanted fishing gear through programs, such as National Fish and Wildlife Foundations Fishing for Energy.


NOAA recently published the Ten Things You Should Know About Marine Debris, that is not only informative, but also makes one think of ways to personally make a change to help the shorelines and marine environment.

A 3D rendering of the ocean cleanup array, a special device that 19-year old Dutch student, Boyan Slat, believes could clean up the world’s oceans, all while keeping plankton and fish safe from harm.

There have been many new inventive ideas, many from high school and college students, whom study Oceanography, Marine Technology and the like.  A few of these new inventions are being tested all around the world, with results that are hoping to help reduce the steady flow of debris floating around the Earth’s oceans. One of these new inventions is the The Ocean Clean Up, a spacecraft looking marine craft, motoring along the water collecting the debris.  The brainchild of a Aerospace Engineer student, Boyan Slat, the 19 year old wrote about his invention for a school paper in 2012, which won many accolades.  Boyan hopes his invention, which would cost about $30 million a year to operate, could remove 50 years worth of the ocean’s debris within 10 years.  Can it be done?  We certainly hope so!  Boyan is raising money to start the operation, and of this posting, has made the $2 million dollar goal, and will soon begin to make his dream a reality.  Although not a non-profit, his innovations will surely change the way we clean up our oceans.

So how can we, the beachcombing sea glass collectors help?  For starters, we can start at home.  If we reuse more, recycle more, and waste less, the amount of our trash making it to our oceans and waterways will decrease.

Another easy thing we can all do is to bring a separate bag for beach trash when we go hunting for sea glass!   Sounds easy enough, but do you do it?  We’d like to propose to all beachcombers everywhere to grab a bag before you go, and as you hunt for treasure, pick up the trash along the way.  Not only will it make us feel good for helping the environment, it’s a great workout (think of all those squats!) and it will also help fulfill our mission to restore the shorelines.

Lastly, join your local area beach clean-ups, there are many local, regional and national programs to help get your started!   Did you know that National Coastal Clean Up Day is the third Saturday in September every year?

As we start our new year, let’s make strides to help the environment every day, and don’t forget to mark your calendar, September 19, 2015 for next year’s Coastal Clean Up Day!