I’m A Scientist! My Rubber Bales! Or Shipping Black Tar in Foil Through International Mail

Some of you may remember my post a few months back-  Calling All Ocean Sleuths:  Natural Rubber Bales Wash Up on the Coast of Ambergris Caye?

This is the one that was closest to our house – it and the seaweed around it all washed away in the high tides of the last month.

A HEAVY rubbery, tar-like block had washed up to the north of us.  The bees were loving it.  And then we traveled a few miles north and saw another one.  My friend Jody reported one south of town.  And then Daniel, a captain for Belize Sailing Vacation, said he’d seen them more than one on outer cayes.  I did some internet research…and decided to write about my discovery.

Less than a week later, the Palm Beach Post wrote about their find on local beaches – and identified them as natural rubber latex bales.  More washed up on St. Joseph Peninsula on the Florida Panhandle.  Even the Weather Channel picked up the story.

And then…just a few days ago, I got a message from a scientist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute about my rubber bales.  They had seen my post and wanted information…and a sample.

He sent me this photo as an example.  The outer coating (tar-like) and the inner sheets.

Was there any oil also washing up on the shores, they asked?  No.  The leader scientist is an expert on tracing and typing oil and rubber to its source.

With dreams of an honorary PhD, we set out, pliers and knife packed, to find the bales near us…and get a sample from a friend who had dragged his out of the sun.

Remember that time a 2019 Russian Space Craft shell washed up on the beach on Ambergris Caye? 

Let’s focus here.

He has an enviable buoy collection…and the bale was set right next to the biggest one.

Dragged there by 3 men?  These things are NOT light.  He’s also got some other very cool stuff.

We took a hacksaw to the bale.

It did not come off as cleanly as the samples in the photograph.  Perhaps the sun and warm waters melted the rubber?  The internet tells me that Heavy Natural Rubber melts at 35.5C or 95F.  With this black coating…I think melting is definitely possible.

Outer layer peeled off with some difficulty and the inner sheets were stuck together.

Strangely, it smells exactly like beef jerky.  I feel like we could do something here.  Extra long lasting…

I now await shipping details.  I was told to wrap them in foil.  I really hope no one thinks I’m shipping heroin.  Well, more specifically, I hope the DEA does not think that.

We headed north…to enjoy the beautiful day and to see if we could find any more.

Such a pretty sign for North Beach Retreat at about mile 10.

First stop, El Norte.  The owner had also saved me a bale.

And another huge buoy find – that’s a standard bicycle tire next to it.

Onward!  Another…mile?  And Jeff spotted one on the beach.

The water was dark from higher winds but just days before…it had been crystal clear.

Just a gorgeous day.

Gorgeous and HOT!  WIthout water…we decided to turn around…

Taking pictures all the way.

We passed at least 20 carts…WAY more than you usually see this far up north.  But it was Sunday and people are looking to GET OUT.  A nice drive up the beach…

And then back to the road.  Love these gates…makes this area feel like farmland.

We stopped at “our local” – Bonito’s store for some cold cold drinks.

With elections coming up – this little area – where SO many lots have been given out to voters by the local government –  is aflutter with political flags.

I love his bottle cap “doormats” – his initials – and his wife’s.

We headed back off the main road – away from the ocean – to the grid of HUGE new roads that have been filled in this area.  There are about 15 houses and more going up.

I wrote about it last year:  The Location for San Pedro Norte?  A Spot for the School

It has been said that a new High School and Police Department will be built up here – the large lot is filled.  (It is almost all low lying mangroved area back here)

No school or police station or anything yet.  Just these three letters.

And I’ve been thinking about them ever since.  I want to go back and get that “R”.


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