WOOD ISLAND, P.E.I. - Take a walk on most any ocean beach in Canada and, if you look carefully, you'll spot the unmistakable glint of a piece of sea glass.
To most people, the slightly frosted pieces of glass are mere trinkets, barely worthy of a second glance.
But to some, they are translucent gems, lovingly referred to as mermaid tears.
Tumbled smooth by the constant fiction of water and sand, sea glass is getting harder to find as more plastic is being used to make containers, and more glass is being recycled.
On the weekend, the first Mermaid Tears Sea Glass Festival was held at Wood Islands, P.E.I., to raise money for the upkeep of the local lighthouse.
The festival featured a competition among collectors, with the winner taking home $300 for displaying a particularly fetching piece of red glass.
The competition was judged by Richard LaMotte of Chestertown, Md., who wrote the bible for collectors, called "Pure Sea Glass."
"Having something of a rare colour such as orange, red or turquoise blue, which are the three most rare colours, is important," he said in an interview.
"But also having something in an unusual shape is important for the collector."
The most common colours are green, brown and clear.