Jennifer Steen Booher

Platja Barceloneta, Barcelona, Spain; May 18, 2014 (Barcelona Beachcombing series No.1)


Cuttlefish bone (probably Sepia officinalis), clam shell (possibly Callista chione), sea glass, basalt beach stone, shell fragment, various unidentified beach stones (that might include marble and schist), clam shells (unidentified species), Green Crab shell (Carcinus maenas), plastic bottle top, plastic-coated wire, driftwood, metal bottle cap with pull-tab, charred wood, and mussel shell (probably Mytilus galloprovincialis).


On Sunday morning everyone slept late, and I seized an hour to go beachcombing. We were staying in an adorable apartment at the edge of the Barri Gótic (the Gothic Quarter), only a block away from the water. I thought it would be relatively simple to pop out to the shore. Knowing I’d have to move fast, I left my (very heavy) camera at home, planning to use my iPad mini to get quick shots of the beach for this blog. I set off at a trot, holding my crumpled map out like a perfect caricature of a lost tourist. As it turned out, yes, we were right near the water, but not so close to the beach. There were a large marina and a small neighborhood (Barceloneta) between me and a beachcomb-able shoreline. It was a question of getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible.

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I got distracted almost immediately. The marina is lined with a broad promenade, and on Sunday morning the promenade was lined with musicians, craftspeople, and performers. I trotted past all temptations, very aware that half my available time would be used up just getting to and from the beach, but the Castellers stopped me in my tracks. Catalonia is famous for (among other things) these groups of people who build themselves into human towers. I can’t explain. Just watch!


Finally, sweaty and puffing, I made it to the beach: Platja Barceloneta, I later discovered. I looked to the left (back toward the city):


And I looked to the right (out toward the point):


And I started beachcombing!


It was windy and a little overcast, and very very urban. Not in a bad way, mind you, but I’m used to having to climb over ice-covered granite boulders to reach the shore here in Maine, and for seven months of the year I’m usually the only person in sight. In Barcelona, there’s a very civilized esplanade lined with little restaurants (that red box at right is the back of an ocean-facing café.) I noticed a few other differences about city beachcombing. Pigeons outnumbered seagulls, for starters. People sitting on the beach were checking their smart phones. And the tide line was marked by cigarette butts, not seaweed.


There was a surprising amount of sea glass, most of it smaller than a nickel, in lots of colors – teal, emerald, clear, blue, even a few itty bitty red pieces that didn’t make it into the final photo. Here’s a shot of my still-damp haul after I rinsed it and laid it out on the apartment counter:


There were a few strange things about what I found. I think I figured some of them out over the next couple of days (and I’ll tell you in my next post), but here’s the list:

1) Why was the sea glass so small?

2) Why was there no “raw” sea glass (i.e. broken glass.)

3) That’s a very odd mixture of stones. What is the geology here?

4) That big white thing at the top is a cuttlebone, the internal structure of a squid. (I found two of them, but this one smelled much less revolting than the other.) Why have I never found one of those on the shore in Maine?

5) What, no doubloons? Nuts.


And the very best thing about urban beachcombing? I’d only had an hour for the whole adventure, and of course I ran late … so I took a taxi home!



One thought on “Platja Barceloneta, Barcelona, Spain; May 18, 2014 (Barcelona Beachcombing series No.1)

  1. Pingback: Platja San Sebastià, Barcelona, Spain; May 20, 2014 | Quercus Design

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