I've got something to help you understand
Something waiting there, beneath the sand
My metal detector is with me all of the time
I'm the inspector over the mine
In fiction, it's common to see people on beaches looking around for stuff using metal detectors.
This often carries the stereotype (in Britain at least) of someone who searches the countryside hoping to find buried treasure (not as silly as it sounds, since hauls of artifacts made of precious metals are occasionally found in Britain, which is what leads to this kind of behaviour in the first place). It's technically legal (and landowners have a good incentive, since they're entitled to a share of whatever's found on their land) and there are even specific laws for finding buried treasure (technically it belongs to the crown, but the finder and landowner will be paid a fee from whatever museum that ends up taking it), however for obvious reasons it greatly annoys actual historians and archaeologists, who'd rather see the sites properly excavated rather than plundered.
This trope is not limited to beaches
. See also Metal Detector Puzzle
when this occurs in Video Games
. Occasionally seen in Beach Episodes
Note, that in Canada, the long running TV series, Beachcombers
had the starring character, Nick, in an entirely different version of this activity. Namely, it was professional lumber salvaging using boats to haul lost logs into the water for towing to timber companies to looking recover their lost materials.
- In one episode of The Adventures of Pete & Pete, Dad explains that he met Mom when he was beach-combing and his detector went off at the metal plate in her head. In the same episode he tells this story, he's still combing the beach looking for something else really good..... and finds an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme! He and his family dig it out of the sand and drive home in it.
- Heartbeat: Claude Greengrass finds some Roman coins in a garden of a Big Fancy House he'd been hired to look after. He spends a fortune on a dredger in an effort to find the rest of them, only to discover them just as the owner arrive home to claim the lot.
- In the Futurama episode "When Aliens Attack", Hermes is seen combing the beach with a metal detector◊. It turns out that he was using it to play hide and seek with Bender though.
- On King of the Hill, Peggy and Bobby engage in some beachcombing when vacationing on the shore, and coming in conflict with local beachcombers who don't appreciate tourists horning in on their turf.
- A recent example is this guy. Who found the single largest stash of Roman coins in Britain.
- Similarly, a woman was prosecuted under the Treasure Act (which deals with finding and compensating artifacts with historical value) after failing to turn in a rare coin (1 of only 4 discovered to date). She was let off after it was revealed she had received it before the act came into law.