Hurricane Irene Brings Beach Booty To Urban Treasure Hunters

Ana Ramierez on the beach in Coney Island

Hurricane Irene may have been a bust for those who hoped to see nature’s force cruelly pummel the city, but it’s been a boon for beach bounty hunters seeking a bit of lost gold.

New York Times reports that treasure seekers have been hitting local beaches in droves, spurred on by hopes that the rough waters carved away the top layers of sand to reveal discarded valuables such as coins or jewelry. According to the report, the metal detector-equipped hopefuls are staking out sections of beach all along Long Island and the five boroughs.

Our three local beaches – with their long, storied histories – are particular favorites for finding junk going back to the area’s days as a playground for the rich elite; or perhaps to find a bit of bling from the nouveau riche immigrant class.

“Coney Island — well, people have been losing jewelry there since the 1830s,” said Mike McMeekin, a treasure hunter from Long Island who owns Treasures Unlimited, a Bellmore store that sells metal detectors.. “Brighton — you have a lot of Russians who like to wear gold; same with Manhattan Beach. Orchard Beach does a lot of volume, and more volume means more jewelry.”

Though the Times found a lot of supposedly disappointed treasure hunters, McMeekin said it’s all just an act.

“We tell everyone we’re digging pennies,” he said, “and we’re laughing all the way to the bank.”

Have you ever gone treasure hunting on our local beaches? What did you find?