My name is Deacon Ritterbush (aka “Dr. Beachcomb”*) and my beachcombing experience spans nearly six decades. I have explored many coastlines from Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sound to the Mediterranean, the Caribbean and throughout the Pacific, with wonderful memories and beach treasures to show for it.
Because I believe that “context” leads to a greater appreciation of everything, I draw on my research skills and anthropology background to learn more about the artifacts I find. This leads me on even more “combing expeditions,” this time for facts on the evolution of our planet and the splitting of Pangia; Chumash Indian tool-making; 17th c pirate hide-outs in the Caribbean; the impact of acidification on mollusks; and much more.
My lectures, articles and books all touch on various aspects of the beachcomb experience: tips, techniques and ethics; sea glass and beach ceramic genres; coastal conservation issues (i.e. the “plastic” problem); and even the spiritual and health benefits derived from wandering along a shoreline looking for treasures. I organize Archaeology at the Beach workshops and chair the annual International Beachcombing Conference where new, novice and consummate beachcombers alike gather to learn more about what they can find on the shore.
My first book, A Beachcomber’s Odyssey: Treasures from a Collected Past, is a “beach log” of life lessons I’ve learned while combing different beaches all over the world. The book includes stunning photos of beach treasures and information on the coastal regions I’ve explored and artifacts I’ve found. A Beachcomber’s Odyssey won the “Books for Better Living” gold medal (Independent Publishers), the Da Vinci Medal for Cover of the Year and Honorable Mention for Best Self-Help Book of 2009 (Eric Hoffer award). It is available for purchase in stores, on Amazon or directly from me on this site under PRODUCTS. I am following up with Vol. 2, Strands in the Sand, which I hope will be out later in 2013.
On the personal front, I am an American, married to an archaeologist from the Kingdom of Tonga and the mother of three children. I attended Kenyon College, American University, and received a Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii as an East-West Center grantee. I trained as a writer, an anthropologist and a political economist and have worked as a sustainable development strategist for national and international agencies. I’ve also won some awards for original screenplays; written and directed a couple of TV documentaries; and published both articles and photographs in newspapers and magazines such as Country Living, La Vie Claire and Hana Hou.
In 2005, I resumed writing full-time, sometimes heading to the beach to mull over plot points or clear my head. And as I walked, I scanned the shore for treasures. One day I realized how integral an activity beachcombing has always been in my life. No matter the location, the weather, the mood or the circumstances, I beachcomb, and the hobby has never failed to provide me with fascinating treasures; an inexpensive way to achieve better mental, emotional and physical health; and a spiritual means to weather life’s challenges. Even today, an hour or two of weekly ‘combing cheers me up, calms me down, lends perspective, recharges my batteries and provides me with an entertaining way to spend time outdoors with family and friends.
I love sharing my skills and knowledge on beachcombing and beachcomb treasures with all who desire to learn more. So if that’s you, let’s get started!
* In the summer of 2006, while coordinating a beachcomber kids summer camp, I was “bequeathed” the nickname ‘Dr. Beachcomb’ by a student who was so excited to show me a sun-purple shard of sea glass he’d found that he forgot my name and blurted out “Dr. Beachcomb” instead. The other kids thought it was easier to call me that and the nickname stuck.