Texas Beaches

Ask Dr. Beach

Beachcombing 101

Photography by Peter Holley July 1, 2013 Published in the July 2013 issue of Houstonia Magazine

Edward Fielding / Shutterstock

The Texas coast is a great place for beachcombing. The aptly named Stephen P. Leatherman, a.k.a. “Dr. Beach,” is the director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University. He’s spent a great deal of time studying the Texas coast and combing it, too.

“The Texas coast becomes a collection for a lot of things, both good and bad,” he says. “Anything that people throw off a drilling rig or off a boat is going to end up on your shore.” Here are his tips for finding sharks’ teeth, fossils and shells, and sea glass:

  • Consult a tide chart beforehand. Shoot for combing around peak low tide. 
  • If possible, avoid the sun by combing early in the morning or after 4 p.m.
  • Don’t forget to bring a hat, sunglasses, plastic bags (for moist objects), sunscreen, and a backpack with food and water. You’re going to be doing lots of walking. 
  • Helpful tools include a magnifying glass, small shovel, a bucket, and a metal detector. 
  • Scour beaches where there are fewer people and more room (in Galveston, avoid the pocket beaches along the Seawall and go farther west).
  • Keep an open mind; continue walking.
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