I am trying to find an appropriate word to describe multiple items that wash up on shore. I would prefer a single-word answer, but don't know that one exists. I am trying to name a photo album that contains flotsam, jellyfish, seashells, and driftwood.

  • 2
    Flotsam is the wreckage that's floating; jetsam is the wreckage that's washed ashore. Neither applies to things not from a shipwreck though.
    – deadrat
    Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 20:20
  • 1
    Perhaps interstitial, intertidal or simply tidal debris? Note that, inexactly used , 'jetsam' (as suggested by @deadrat) is a good word. In extended use, 'jetsam' refers to 'Something washed up or discarded; refuse, detritus.' (OED)
    – JEL
    Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 20:32
  • Washed Up
    – Jim
    Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 20:32
  • 1
    Detritus. Waste or debris of any kind.
    – Joe Dark
    Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 20:41
  • If you can't find the single word, you could consider "Objects cast up by the sea" or just "Cast up by the sea" for the album's name.
    – Papa Poule
    Commented Oct 17, 2015 at 20:51

3 Answers 3


1. wrack


seaweed or other marine vegetation that is floating in the sea or has been cast ashore


a wreck or piece of wreckage

A lone beachcomber squats among the wrack
Of kaleidoscope shells
Probing fractured Venus with a stick
Under a tent of taunting gulls.

Two Lovers And A Beachcomber By The Real Sea - Sylvia Plath

2. jetsam


unwanted material or goods that have been thrown overboard from a ship and washed ashore, especially material that has been discarded to lighten the vessel.

"there was plenty of good kindling among the jetsam on the beach"


As I understand it, things can drift on the surface of the water (as plastic floats do) or below the water surface but above the sea floor (as drift nets do) or along the sea floor (as shells and bones do). All of these items can therefore be referred to as drift. Merriam-Webster's Eleventh Collegiate Dictionary gives this as definition 2(d) of the noun drift:

something (as driftwood) washed ashore.

It seems to me that this definition of drift is broad enough to encompass flotsam, jellyfish, seashells, and driftwood.


These are all items that are stranded.

The strand is the section of the beach that is between the high and low tide points. Anything that is left on the strand by a retreating tide is said to be stranded.

The word is applicable to jetsam, creatures, or anything else.

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