Happiness held is the seed; Happiness shared is the flower.

Endless waves wash against Caribbean and Bahamian beaches leaving behind brightly colored or unusual seashells to catch the collector’s eye, but those same waves also bring other gifts from the sea. Among the many interesting objects left stranded on the sand are tropical seeds and fruits that drift there from such exotic places as the west coast of Africa, the Amazon Basin, South America, Central America, and the Gulf of Mexico.

Sea-beans or sea-drifts, indeed, have been firing imaginations worldwide for centuries. Early Europeans thought these drift seeds floated up from underwater forests, and believed them endowed with curative — even magical — powers.  Unlike seashells, sea-beans or sea-drifts are not an everyday find, making the hunt for them an interesting addition to a quiet beach stroll.

Charles Darwin had studied these anomalies to find that seeds inevitably sink, so there are only a small percentage of dried seeds that can travels hundreds of miles for months on end on the ocean currents to remote locations around the world. 

Certain sea-beans have a curious countenance adding to their appeal. The hamburger bean, (also called a horse eye), from vines along the Amazon, looks just like the entree but for its dollhouse dimensions.  One would expect the sea purse to snap open and spill out minute coins. Costa Rica’s monkey ladder vine produces the valentine-shaped sea heart. Mary’s bean, also called a crucifixion bean, bears the impression of a cross on one side and a womb-like image on the other.

Next time on charter, pay close attention to Poseidon’s gifts lying on the beach and you may be able to start a sea-bean collection of your own. The most infamous sea-drift is the coconut.  Its origin is still argued today by scientists.  Its versatility and portability has allowed the species to evolve and as a result of human intervention, it has lost some of its ability to float; it has survived because of mass cultivation. 

Coconuts and Mangoes are Sea-Drifts.

Coconuts and Mangoes are Sea-Drifts.

French artist Paul Gauguin posthumously became a celebrated artist owed much to his Tahitian landscapes many including the coconut palm. Gauguin himself could be described as a sea-drift, with his many oceanic journeys between Paris, Martinique and finally Tahiti. Gauguin chased his dream of a simplistic life away from the pressures of his Parisian society. “Dreams are the seeds of change. Nothing ever grows without a seed, and nothing ever changes without a dream.”- Debbie Boone

Tips to help your search for Sea-Drifts:

  • Search above the high tide line and the wrack-line. Sea-beans float therefore they will be with other items that float, such as seaweed.  This "wrack-line" may consist of different types of plant and ocean material. You're looking for the oceanic algae called Sargassum. If the currents and winds have blown this ashore, then there may be sea-beans among it.

  • The weather systems in the tropics are also very important to watch. Many sea-beans originate in tropical jungles and need torrential rains to flood the jungles and carry the beans to streams, to rivers, and to the sea. It's the annual cycle of these tropical storms that contribute to the "seasonality" of sea-bean abundance.  Sea-beans can be found through out the year, but are simply much more abundant at some times of the year.

  • Check the onboard copy of the “World Guide to Tropical Drift Seeds and Fruits”-Charles R Gunn, to identify your treasures, start your collection while on charter.



Ghandi Kane