Common names: Glass floats, glass fishing floats, or Japanese glass fishing floats
The Japanese glass fishing floats were once used by fishermen in many parts of the world to keep their fishing nets as well as long lines or drop lines afloat.
Norway was the first country to start production and use of glass fishing floats around 1840. Christopher Faye, a Norwegian merchant from Bergen is credited for their invention.
Interesting facts about the Japanese glass fishing floats:
- European and Asian fisheries have used Glass floats for well over 80 years, possibly much longer.
- Many glass floats remain in circular ocean currents in the North Pacific.
- Glass floats wash up along the whole West Coast of the Americas, Hawaii, the South Pacific Islands, and beaches all around the Pacific Rim, Australia, Russia and Japan. The Floats also comes ashore on the Gulf Coast States, the Bahamas and the Caribbean.
- Japanese glass fishing floats were hand made by a glassblower, using recycled glass from old windowpanes, water jugs, whiskey, and sake and milk bottles.
- Many glass floats show wear patterns from rolling in the sand and surf. When the netting disintegrates a net pattern image remains with clear glass in the places the float was protected by the net.
- Some glass floats have small amounts of water trapped inside of them. This occurs when floats are suspended in arctic ice or held under water by nets. Water pressure on the glass surface forces entry into the floats through microscopic imperfections in the glass.
- There are many types of nets attached to floats made from all manner of materials. Nylon, help, or other natural fibers are used. The classic thick hemp rope used decades ago is probably the one type of net that is considered most special to many glass float collectors.
The above photo was taken at the Chaa Creek Bar where several Japanese Glass Floats are prominently displayed.