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What do finds on our beaches tell us about the rest of the world?

I still remember that magical day as a kid on my favorite Oregon beach when I collected 100 whole, white sand dollars. I ran from one to another in a tipsy mix of disbelief and joy; filled both hands repeatedly and probably every bucket and bag my family had along.

My mom wouldn’t let me take all of them home, but I’m almost certain some are still in a shoebox in a closet with other childhood treasures. I took them out a few times to play with them, but in essence, my sand dollar story stopped there.

If only author Bonnie Henderson had found them! In her new book, Strand: An Odyssey of Pacific Ocean Debris, Henderson traces the orgins of six objects she finds during regular walks on “her” stretch of the Oregon coast - Mile 157, between Florence and Reedsport. A glass fisherman’s float, a dead common murre, a running shoe, a minke whale, the charred hull of a fishing boat, and the perfectly evolved egg case of a skate.

Tracing the industrial and natural history of her finds takes her to a fishing village in Japan, a factory in China, a former sea captain’s home in Roseburg, and a dead bird seminar in Bellingham, Washington. It connects the stretch of coast she loves to the world via ocean currents, and the changes she is seeing on her beach to the environmental changes happening globally.




  • Bonnie Henderson: Journalist, author of Strand: An Odyssey of Pacific Ocean Debris
  • Julia Parrish: Professor of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, University of Washington, founder of COASST, the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team
  • John Verberkmoes: Former captain of the fishing boat Sanak
  • Charles Moore: Founder, Algalita Marine Research Foundation


Photo credit: axoplasm / Flickr / Creative Commons

ocean beach shipwreck

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