By STEVE HATHCOCK
Special to the PRESS
I received an email from Tom recently asking about treasure hunting on South Padre Island.
We are planning on visiting the Island sometime and I am planning on bringing my metal detector with me. Can you tell me what I need to know about the legalities of using my detector on the beach and when is the best time to hunt for gold?
Generally speaking, most gold jewelry is lost by people wading in the surf. During the summer, the waves are very gentle and the wind conditions actually add a couple of feet of beach in many areas. It’s not uncommon to see several people wandering the surf, intently eyeing the bottom in a mostly vain attempt to find a lost ring, necklace, or other valuable that has just washed off sun block slicked bodies. They would be most successful if they restricted their hunt to the immediate area they were in when first realizing an object was lost. Gold has a specific gravity and heavier pieces of jewelry will have a tendency to sink at the point it is dropped.
You will be surprised at the variety of gold I and other detectorists have found in front of the major hotels that have sprouted up along the beaches of Padre Island. The best time to hunt is after a good storm and there are several reasons for this. Storms or a prolonged period of unusually high surf caused by wind or current changes will erode natural flood areas and reveal deep cuts in the floor of the Gulf. This is where you will find the gold.
As for using your detector on the beach, there are no laws at the present time about using your detector on the beach. However, I must caution you to remember that the beaches of South Padre Island are Public and one must always respect the rights of others. In this I mean, you should make sure that you leave an area in the same condition or better than when you found it. Lovers walk the beach, hand in hand, not paying attention to where they are walking and the sudden jolt from stepping in a hole can cause severe neck and lower back injury. So please, always fill your hole before moving on.
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