Gifts from the Sea?

As a splurge, Melissa and I recently spent two days at an eco-friendly beach-front place (Boca Paila Camp) in the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve south of Tulum, Mexico. With the sea too rough for snorkeling, we spent a lot of time walking on the beach. The off-shore currents in that area bring a lot of trash from all over the Atlantic washing up on shore.

Based on our unscientific survey, here are the top three things coming out of the sea (not counting bits of sea grass and broken coral that you’d expect to find on the beach):

1) Plastic bottles: we saw tons of soda and water bottles, milk jugs, detergent bottles, motor oil and antifreeze bottles—whatever size and shape, they’re all out there.

2) Coconuts: some look like they fell off the local palm trees fairly recently, but others have clearly been tossed around for a good while because they’re covered in barnacles.

3) Shoes: no really, in two beach walks, we counted 10 washed-up shoes. Sandals, flip-flops, a high-heeled open-toed mule, even a boot. Where do they come from? Do people take off their shoes to go into the water and leave them too close to the tide line? Do the shoes get washed off the decks of sailboats or accidentally kicked over the rail of cruise ships?

It’s a strange old world out there.

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