“Traditionally, flotsam and jetsam are words that describe goods of potential value that have been thrown into the ocean. There is a technical difference between the two: jetsam has been voluntarily cast into the sea (jettisoned) by the crew of a ship, usually in order to lighten it in an emergency; while flotsam describes goods that are floating on the water without having been thrown in deliberately, often after a shipwreck. Traditionally spelled flotsom and jetsom, the "o" was replaced with "a" in the early twentieth century and have since been out of common usage.”
Whenever I walk any beach facing windward I look along the shoreline for jetsam and flotsam as I find the stuff so interesting. I imagine how it fist got into the water and the journey it’s traveled to get there. The best place I have ever seen for the stuff is the east coast of Barbuda which is where I have spent a great many holidays as a kid and now as a “grownup”. Beachcombing is one of the most relaxing things for me and sometimes I am happy to walk for hours and hours looking for shells and washed up bits and pieces. Of course most of the stuff that washes up is total garbage, but so much of it is more than just trash. If you spend time to think about the negative aspects of this garbage it can be quite depressing for many reasons. I mean I have actually freed several turtles from big green nets out in the Atlantic. Of course this is the most obvious way flotsam can harm animals. I am not sure where this thick green net comes from but its drifts up all over the Caribbean from out in the Atlantic. No fishermen here use it, and I am sure that if I did a little research I could find which county’s fishermen use it. Apart from killing turtles, it covers the reefs as it drifts towards the shore. There isn’t a single section of reef on Barbuda’s windward coast that is without this type of net. I have never seen it myself, but did see a report on TV about whales that had become entangled in it.
At the end of the day, anything at all that floats will end up drifting ashore or getting stuck on a reef someday. Beaches that have people living along them or those that have hotels beside them will probably be cleaned, but remote windward beaches will have flotsam and jetsam piling up until they photo degrade or until they are covered in sand.
The Portuguese Man of War has captured one from the Tilly habitat. The next day the hat floats by a funny thing: a computer screen covered in barnacles bobs up and down ever so slowly drifting in the currents. You see all sorts in this river of current. You imagine anything at all that can float and that could possibly end up in the sea and it will be there. After about 8 months of drifting and hoping to end up back in Antigua the end is near. The currents have changed a tiny bit and instead of drifting up at Green Island the Tilly makes it to its second most favorite place. It’s a tiny beach at a place called Griffin Point on the East Coast of Barbuda. Most of the fish that were hiding beneath the hat realized something was wrong as the hat tumbled through the breakers on the outer reefs. They decided to swim out past the reef into the currents in order to keep drifting with a beer crate they had seen that morning. The beer crate had more of a habitat anyway, but the Tilly had made it to land at long last. The bright sandy beach was more beautiful than could be described but it was hot. It was super hot, and before long all the barnacles and other life stuck on the hat had been bleached off by the sun. The hat lay there baking every day with only crabs, a few nesting turtles, and several migratory birds passing close by. It wasn’t until a tall lanky guy called Eli passed by that a new permanent home would be found.