Thursday, February 6, 2014

Collection Report - Dec 8, 2013

Sunday December 8. 10:00AM An hour after low tide. 27-28 degrees. Overcast, thin clouds. Three weeks since my last visit. Dull, dull, dull weeks, except for one windstorm the previous week.
Seeing an even, gradual slope from the back of the backshore down, down, to the waterline. Fresh-ish wrack had come in during the ensuing weeks.

There was a huge mound of pebbles at back of foreshore -- almost a dune, most likely washed up by the windstorm.

Interestingly, there was still some seaweed tenaciously clinging to rocks and to life down on the low foreshore.

Another indicator of the dull & mild weather Maine had been getting to now. Snowstorms in DC, Missouri, freezes in deep South. But fragile life persisting on a Maine beach!

Curiously, there was still lobster trap vinyl washing in & staying, even with the previous week's storms.
These little flecks get sucked back out to sea very easily with any wave energy. Their presence is another indicator of calm weather.

On the other hand, heavier stuff did wash in as well. Lots of small chunks of lobster trap still with iron inside. And this 30-40-year-old aluminum can top:
So, waves strong enough to dislodge and dredge up an ancient piece of metal, but gentle enough to leave vinyl scraps behind. Strong enough to shape pebbles into dunes, but not strong enough to bring trap vents, bait bags, and other floatables over the rocks at the head of the cove.

An odd day.
14 pcs of rope, about 25 ft total
112 pcs of nonrope debris
126 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 1 (cup scrap, washed in)
  • Fishing rope/net: 14 (25 ft)
  • Fishing misc.: 90 (70 vinyl trap coating scraps, 12 metal trap parts, 7 claw bands, fishing line)
  • Food-related plastics: 3 (cup scrap, intact but abraded knife, fork scrap)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 5 (2 new local cans, 2 sea glass, old pulltab-era can top)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 2 (cord, tape)
  • Scrap plastics: 11 ( 6 > 1" , 5 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 0
A quiet day by recent standards. But an odd one. What all did I miss during the weeks I was kept away from the beach? Who knows...

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 11061
  • Total from fishing -- 9695 (87.7%)
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1944
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 6982

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Collection Report - November 15, 2013

Wow. So much for staying on top of these reports. Holiday Season '13 was chaos. Hoping now to catch back up.

So... All the way back now to Friday, November 15. Just before 1:30PM, a couple hrs before low tide. Sun peeking through wispy clouds. 50 degrees. Light breeze. Silver skies, silver sands.
First impressions... low energy again, as with all of summer and into the fall. Spritzes of rain in the week since November 8. But no energy. The ridges & cliffs at the back of foreshore were still there, wearing down & wearing away. Winds had been blowing very fine, white, dry sand from south to north. A quiet & peaceful day. And the deer had been back.
Low on foreshore, I found the usual spread of small pebbles up top with bigger cobbles & boulders strewn about. The back of the foreshore had an interesting feel. The tideline felt more typical of a wider beach, like the beaches of Saco Bay a few miles to the north. The slope, the softness & smoothness of the sand. The distinct high-tide line with squishy sand behind it and "nail holes" poking up.
The type of scene that's pretty rare here at Curtis Cove. (Of course the washed-in lobster claw band isn't quite so rare.)

The low foreshore had its usual smear ofbeat-up wrack and the plastic that comes with it. All told, found this:
2 pcs of rope, about 4 ft total
316 pcs of nonrope debris
318 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 2
  • Fishing misc.: 280 (265 vinyl lobster trap coating scraps, 4 trap parts, 2 small fishing line scraps, 9 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 15 (bottlecap o-ring, 13 cup scraps, straw)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 2 (sea glass)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 4 (end cap/plate (heavily poked), big label scrap, cable tie, cigar filter)
  • Scrap plastics: 14 ( 6 > 1" , 8 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 1 (ceramic scrap)
More of the same.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 10935
  • Total from fishing -- 9591 (87.7%)
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1930
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 6912

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Collection Report - November 8, 2013

A fresh collection report -- first in a long time!

Friday, November 8. 8:30AM. Just after low tide, a fairly weak one. Chill in the air, upper 30s, but warm sun and little breeze made the morning pleasant.
Two weeks since I had been here last. And the beach was looking very different. More of a steady, significant slope from the back of the foreshore all the way down to the water's edge. Sand likely slushed and washed up from down low by energy in late October & the first days of November.

Down on the low foreshore, summer's algae was by now almost all dead/dying. All passing away with the warmth & sun of summer. Green turning back to brown & gray.
From top to bottom, the beach on Friday left no flat spots, no taper points. Just a clean unobstructed angle. Meaning likely fewer places for water & flotsam to settle out quietly. Would that mean a light collection day? This lobster-trap bait bag, blown high onto the backshore, suggested that winds may have blown in more than guessed.
Elsewhere on the beach the view was more amazing. I spotted a seam of really cool features along back of foreshore:
"Sand volcanoes" -- air pushed up from inside the sand by the overnight incoming tide, but unable to escape easily thanks to a tiny film of frost on the surface. Amazing world we live in.

So, what were the finds?
7 pcs of rope, about 15 ft total
120 pcs of nonrope debris
127 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 7
  • Fishing misc.: 96 (85 vinyl scraps, 2 trap parts, ring, bumper, bait bag, 6 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 1 (cup bottom scrap)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 0
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 2 (upholstery seam, huge bandaid)
  • Scrap plastics: 21 ( 7 > 1" , 14 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 0
It was, by recent standards, a quiet week (blown-in bait bag aside).

Given the slope of the beach and mediocre energy (not storm-strong, not summer-gentle), not surprising to have a lighter-than-normal take. Actually fairly surprising still to be finding as much of the little vinyl bits as I did. Even though it was smeared in a very wide band from back of foreshore down well into the low rocks & cobbles.

The sea keeps giving, week after week.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 10617
  • Total from fishing -- 9309 (87.7%)
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1928
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 6647

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Collection Report - October 23, 2013

Wednesday, October 23. 8:30. Cold, about 40 degrees but still no freeze. Low, bright sun. The road was blocked with roadwork, so I walked in from first horseshoe coves just north of Curtis Cove. Being low tide, it was interesting to see the huge rip-rap wall here up close. 15 feet high, full of tumbled granite debris trying to hold back the sea & protect the causeway.
The ocean comes all the way up to this wall even on the weakest of high-tide here now. Left natural, the causeway & the one or two homes behind it would have been gone long long ago. Timber Point would be an island. The cost of maintaining the status quo will only increase as seas keep rising.

On to the main beach. Rounding the rocks I was greeted by three lovely sights: a long-beached piece of driftwood illuminated by the low sun:
More deer tracks high on the backshore:
And beautiful fall colors ringing the back of the cove:
Curtis Cove is a special place.

Down on the beach proper, by now the low foreshore was almost dead -- algae almost all gone with the passing of summer. But a huge amount of ripped-up kelp was strewn now across the back of the foreshore, mixing and churning with the old mounds of pebbles.
This is another sign of autumn energy. Even though weather has been kind this past week, the ocean is starting to grow more restless.

Curiously, this mass of large kelp was largely devoid of plastics. As usual, the heaviest spread of debris was at a smear of pulverized seaweed that lay in front of this mass. In this case most everything I found lay in about a 20x30 area of the whole beach (plus some very old small bits of rope uncovered at the backshore by shifting sands).

Here's what turned up:
19 pcs of rope, about 10 ft total
203 pcs of nonrope debris
222 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 19
  • Fishing misc.: 171 (163 vinyl lobster trap scraps, trap part, 7 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 8 (5 cup scraps including full styrofoam cup, 2 food tub scraps, very abraded silverware handle)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 0
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 6 (very abraded non-food bottlecap, cigarette, plant stake, 2 cords, cable tie)
  • Scrap plastics: 17 ( 7 > 1" , 10 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 1 (seaglass)
Lobster vinyl debris yet again wins the day.
With it same various old & very abraded bits & bobs, which had obviously spent some years out in the ocean.

If we stop dumping plastics in the ocean tomorrow, our grandchildren will still be finding ours washing up. But maybe -- maybe -- their grandchildren would have clean shores again.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 10490
  • Total from fishing -- 9206 (87.8%)
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1921
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 6562

Collection Report - October 16, 2013

Wednesday, October 16. 1:30PM. A cpl hrs before low tide. Gray & overcast. No rain. 60 degrees. Slight breeze coming from the north. The back of the backshore was ringed by a mix of summery greens and autumnal oranges/reds. No freeze yet on the coast. Blackening wrack from last week's wash-ins lined the backshore of the beach.
Amid the blackening seaweed was the rotting "cliffs" of white sand at the back of the foreshore, also cut back by the previous weeks. Now aging and showing no new pulverizing.
Yet amid the cobbles on low foreshore, summer's algae blooms were dying back quickly on their exposed rocks. Strong (if low) waves had clearly been carving at them this week, ripping them from all except the largest of cobbles and boulders.

And this day brought me a new find at Curtis Cove:
My first ever sea urchin shell ("test") from Curtis Cove. A nice find.

So, low waves but high energy. What washed in?
25 pcs of rope, about 25 ft total
182 pcs of nonrope debris
207 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 25
  • Fishing misc.: 154 (127 lobster trap vinyl scraps, 15 trap parts, trap tag, bait bag, bumper, 5 claw bands, 3 balls of fishing line, o-ring from buoy)
  • Food-related plastics: 4 (cup scraps)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 1 (beer bottle, local drop)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 4 (small scrap of window screen, 2 cords, old abraded button)
  • Scrap plastics: 16 ( 6 > 1" , 10 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 3 (seaglass)
I found a surprising number of heavy metal lobster trap parts, as well as freshly washed-in rope. I also found lower-than-"normal" counts for trap vinyl coatings. That all points to an ocean changing with the seasons.

On to next week.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 10268
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1902
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 6399

Monday, November 4, 2013

Collection Report - October 8, 2013

Tuesday, October 8. 8:00AM. Just after low tide. Bright tide, low-50s.
This was the day after big, sustained windstorm that ran most of the day on Monday. Evidence for the energy was widespread at the beach. The tides easily overtopped the old summer berms at the back of the foreshore, leaving clumps of large wrack behind.
The pounding surf cut & scoured out a big cliff into the soft sand & cobbles at the back of the foreshore.
The weather left very interesting patterns of sand and rain on the beach. It was obvious where the highest of high tides from mid-da Monday splashed all the way up to the back of the cobbles. These were pelted by rain drops as that tide receded Monday afternoon. But then after midnight Tuesday, when the next high tide came in, the rain had stopped. The winds were lower & the tide didn't reach as far. As it receded there were no more raindrops.
Quite striking to see multiple times & tides etched into the sand, and to be able to read it like a book.

All of Monday's activity, plus the coming cold, seems to have stirred up life at the beach. Down on the low foreshore, crab and snail tracks interspersed with gull footprints:
Higher & dryer on the backshore, another denizen of the dunes:
So with all the changes happening on the beach, and all the energy, what would that mean for the finds?
15 pcs of rope, about 20 ft total
198 pcs of nonrope debris
213 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 15
  • Fishing misc.: 163 (149 vinyl lobster trap coating scraps, vent, 2 bait bags, 4 trap parts, 7 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 9 (4 small cup scraps, 2 food wrappers, locally-dropped yogurt tubs, six-pack ring, straw)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 3 (fresh aluminum beer cans, shotgunned)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 9 (3 baggies, latex balloon, long red string, 2 cigarette packaging, umbrella base, fabric swatch)
  • Scrap plastics: 8 ( 4 > 1" , 4 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 3 (2 sea glass, chunk of aluminum)
A strange day. For one thing, local stuff. Including three spiked-and-shotgunned beer cans:
As expected, big stuff did ride the high waves in. Trap vent, bait bags, chunks of rope. But I was surprised how much lobster trap vinyl there still was amid the masses.

Big day: broke the 10,000-piece mark for my Year 2 at Curtis Cove! And the year's just half over.

Anyway, time moves on and the sea is always changing.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 10061
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1877
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 6272

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Collection Report - September 29, 2013

Sunday, September 29. 1:40PM, right at very weak low tide. 60 degrees. Bright, bright sun. Cool seabreeze coming in. Low energy week, unchanged largely since last week.
The foreshore still awash with jumbled and poorly sorted cobbles, pebbles, and wrack. On this early fall day the backshore still looked an awful lot like summer!
A truly beautiful day to have a beach all to myself.

Things I noticed this week: The slope down to the waterline felt longer, more gradual, more consistent & noticeable. There were fewer flat berms and falloffs. There was little sorting or piling of new cusps & mounds. And little new wrack come in. But at very back of last high-tide line (20-30 feet up from what had been the end of the live-algae zone), I found an area of smushed & sand-tossed loose wrack. Lots of vinyl & plastic churned up through this loose wrack.
It's rare at Curtis Cove to see that kind of mixing. Usually the vinyl sits on top, but this stuff got churned into the back of the foreshore, yet not dragged away. As though a couple last high waves made an energetic slush, that then quickly died back away.

So what did I find?
528 pcs of nonrope debris
528 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 0
  • Fishing misc.: 481 (456 vinyl lobster trap coating bits, 9 trap parts, 2 bumpers, big ball of fishing line, 13 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 11 (bottom of drink bottle, 4 bottlecap o-rings, 5 cup scraps, container)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 1 (tiny aluminum can scrap)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 9 ("silk" flower, 6 cable ties, o-ring, anchor)
  • Scrap plastics: 25 (4 > 1" , 21 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 1 (sea glass)
Another zero-rope week! That's become a very good indicator of a very low-energy week at the cove. As is the return of large masses of lobster trap vinyl:
Beyond the vinyl, I did find one other interesting thing:
This bleached, faded, & abraded cup surely has a tale to tell. Who lost it? Where? When? Why? How? So many questions -- all of them essential if we're ever going to reclaim clean oceans & give our descendants reason not to despise us. Yet none of them answerable.

The tides go on.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 9848
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1862
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 6123