Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tears From the Sea

The Great Wave of  Kanagawa
Katsushika Hokusai (Japanese, 1760-1849)

The Legend of
Mermaid’s Tears

One mermaid so loved a ship's captain that she didn't want to see him end his days in the sea. When the captain lost his footing aboard the ship during a storm and fell overboard, rather than call him to her the mermaid calmed the sea to save him. This was a tragic mistake for her: although mermaids have all the powers of the sea within their grasp they are forbidden by Neptune to use them to interfere in human affairs. As punishment, she was banned to the bottom of the ocean, never again to swim to the surface or see her beloved captain. Her tears are said to come to us as beautiful pieces of glass in stunning, crystallized colours.

Last November I was honored to be the featured teller at Voice Mail, a wonderful, adult storytelling venue produced by Connecticut Storyteller Carolyn Stearns. (Find Voicemail on Facebook by following this link: .) The last tale I shared was my adaptation of a short story my aunt brought back from her trip to Germany. At the end of the program I passed around a basket filled with pieces of sea glass; I invited everyone to choose one in the hopes they would remember the message of the story long after we parted.

This week, Carolyn sent me a picture of the sea glass she picked that evening, which had been transformed by the gifted hands of her friend into a gorgeous necklace. I am thrilled that one of the stories I shared that evening will now travel with her always in a new form.

 A bit of background information on these gifts from the sea.  

  • It is said that it takes a minimum of three years for the waves, sand and tide to wear the broken glass down to the likeness of a raw gem or for a better term, what you now call  beach glass.
  • Glass beads have been discovered in Egypt dating back to 2500 B.C.
  • Cleopatra favored glass in her jewelry.
  • Mythology and the folklore of fishermen and sailors say they are “Mermaid’s Tears”.
  • The value of sea glass is greatly determined by color.
  • One of the most exciting finds is a piece of red sea glass, “The Ruby” of the sea and very rare. The odds of obtaining such a piece are 1 in 5000.
  • Sea glass is frosty, smooth, pitted, and glistening in appearance. This process is most often achieved over decades if not centuries.
  • Uncommon colors of sea glass include a type of green. These colors are found once in every 50 to 100 pieces
  • Extremely rare colors include gray, pink, teal, black, yellow, turquoise and red.
  • Orange is the least common type of sea glass, found once in about 10,000 pieces.
The information above was found at these websites:


I was unable to find additional stories about sea glass but I offer you some tales of the sea.

The Great Sea Serpent
The Little Mermaid
Sea Gods of Greek Mythology
The Sea-Hare - German

The Sea King’s Daughter – Russia
The Sea King’s Gift - Finland
The Sea-Maiden - Ireland

Two Legends About the Sea Goddess Mazu (Fujian & Taiwan)
Why the Sea Moans – South America

These links will lead you to other blog posts I have written about mermaids and other gifts from the sea.

Crustaceans of the Sea                                                     
Mermaids –Siren’s of the Sea

Trolling for Tales – Fish Stories from Around the World
Working the Waterfront – Tales of the Fisherman


Fairy Tales of the Sea:A Guide for Teachers – Twenty-five fairytales from around the world along with a teacher’s curriculum guide, offering many extension ideas for the classroom.
Into the Oceans from National Geographic for grades K-2.

Rose Island Lighthouse Foundation Education Program – Lesson Plans for 3-5.


Odyssey Sea Glass - Do you like to walk the beach and collect sea glass? Perhaps you don’t live near the ocean so you buy your sea glass at a store. Here are some lovely ideas for crafts you can make with those “gifts from the sea.”

Sea Glass Planter -

Karen Chace 2012 ©

This blog post was researched and compiled by Karen Chace. Permission for private use is granted. Distribution, either electronically or on paper is prohibited without my expressed written permission. For permission please contact me at Of course, if you wish to link to my blog via your website, blog, newsletter, Facebook page or Twitter please feel free to do so; I greatly appreciate your support and personal integrity.