The ocean’s full of treasures, and if you look carefully, you’ll find some of these nautical gems washed up on the beaches – seashell, sea glass and driftwood galore. But those who look really closely just may come across the Mother of all finds, which has become one of the most sought-after pieces in the ocean’s treasure chest to date.

Glass floats were once used by fishermen in European and eastern countries, particularly Japan. The fishermen set adrift large groups of fishnets with glass floats attached that provided buoyancy. Many floats ended up wiggling their way free and floating miles upon miles before reaching land.

Today, they’ve become a hot collector’s item because fishermen no longer use the glass floats. The advent of plastics and the decline in commercial fishing pushed away the idea of using floats; millions still remain bobbing along the ocean until currents help them to find a second home on dry land, where they’ll most likely end up adorning gardens, patios and living rooms.

Japanese glass floats, as they’re more commonly referred to, can be as small as a golf ball or as large as a beach ball and come in different shapes and colors. The most common color is green because the glass material usually came from recycled wine bottles. Other colors included aquamarine, blue, amethyst, purple and yellow, but those of a red or cranberry color are the rarest since they’re made with gold.

So far, we’ve found a dark green one the size of a basketball and a light blue one with some water inside. I read that the water gets in through microscopic pores and can make the glass float even more rare. I’d love to one day find one that isn’t round but instead rolling pin, football or dumbbell shaped. And while I’m announcing my wishlist, I want to find one that has a special feature like embossed markings or a seal button that seals the hole in the float. The more special the glass float, the higher its worth – which may range anywhere from $5 to $4,000.

The floats’ ocean adventure is determined by the flow of the currents, which will either take them to Hawaii, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Guam or Samoa.

Photo Credit: Noa Myers


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