A large number of oranges were lined up along the high water mark this morning. Presumably they had floated in on the last tide. They were quite fresh and I was tempted to try one. However, the laws of the sea are complex and I have no wish to end up in the Sheriff Court. Were they jetsam or were they flotsam?
Apparently, in terms of maritime law, the definition of flotsam pertains to goods that are floating on the surface of the water as the result of a wreck or an accident. As there is no clear way of defining ownership, one who discovers flotsam is allowed to claim it, unless someone claims ownership to the items in question.
However, jetsam designates any cargo that is intentionally discarded from a ship or wreckage. Per maritime law, one who discovers jetsam is required to return them to their rightful owner if the latter makes a legally abiding claim.
I decided to leave the oranges to the gulls!