Beachcombing – searching for an understanding of Henley Beach


“Beachcombing” is an interactive activity where individuals "comb" the beach and the intertidal zone, looking for anything of value. At the Marine Discovery Centre, this is done at Henley Beach, where kids spend an hour sifting through the sand and enjoying the ambiance of our local beach.

The objective of the Henley Beach tour is to mimic Marine Biologists, to categorise the contents of the beach. Children have the opportunity to find items, ask what they are and then sort them into categories of their choosing. This is also an excellent chance to collect any litter found on the beach, which volunteers will keep in a bag to be disposed of appropriately.

An interesting find is a “rock” called fulgurite forged from lightning striking sand. Given the high temperature of lightning (27,700C) and high melting point of sand (1723C), this fusion creates a solid once the sand cools. Fulgurite can be identified by clicking together two suspected pieces and comparing them with two rocks. By hitting together two fulgurite pieces; a light clanging sound is made, whereas in hitting together two rocks a deeper sound is heard. This investigative process is just one of several ways to give children the means to think like a scientist and therefore, develop new skills.

“Can I take this shell home?” a third grader asks, eyes lit with excitement. “You can’t take them home, but do you know why?” Karno Martin replies, an eager group of children huddled around him like penguins. “When these shells or rocks wash up on the beach, it’s a perfect home for new creatures to live. Do you see the squiggly lines on this oyster shell? That means a worm has already chosen this shell to live in. We don’t want to take that away from them, do we?” All the kids shake their heads no, some running off to tell their parents who have volunteered that day the news.

Beachcombing is one of several invaluable experiences kids can have at the centre. Inside there is also a replica of this activity, where anyone can have access to information on commonly found items at the beach.