Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Collection Report - February 4, 2014

I stopped by on January 28. But the sea was bone-frozen, a giant ice block, but a beautiful day. So I came back a week later. Tuesday, February 4, 2014. 10:15AM. 2 hrs after a very low low tide.
Weather still a struggle this winter. Cold and messy. This day the temp was only in the upper 20s and still very icy. But there had been good melting from the weekend, so at least I had a chance to get at something.

From what I could see of the beach, it was just old wrack there, nothing new had washed in. Lots of pebbles & cobbles were exposed down low. Good banding of wave lines and wrack, and decent sorting. And a beautiful rippling of wave lines as last high-tide went out.
Weekend's rainspots meet morning's tide line
There were chunks of wrack sticking out of the sand all along the backshore, meaning a lot of fine sand had come in and buried what was there. It had been a beach-building couple of weeks, rather than winter's usual beach-eroding.

There was also a ridiculous amount of rusted metal bits of lobster traps, never seen that much on the beach at once! Heavy, bulky chunks just all over the shore.
What kind of a day was it?
45 pcs of rope, about 40 ft total
111 pcs of nonrope debris
156 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 45
  • Fishing misc.: 86 (16 vinyl trap coatings, 62 trap parts!, 3 bumpers, 4 bait bags, clawband)
  • Food-related plastics: 5 (4 cup scraps, wrapper scrap)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 6 (2 new locally dropped cans, 1 small can scrap, 3 sea glass)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 1 (cable tie)
  • Scrap plastics: 11 ( 9 > 1" , 2 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 2 (glove, fabric scrap)
62 rusted chunks of lobster trap washed up! Never happened before. A very weird week for that.

I wish I had been able to unlock the ice at the backshore to fully clear the beach, but for the weather I had, I'm pleased with what I was able to pull off & show.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 11646
  • Total from fishing -- 10136 (87.0%)
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 2059
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 7174

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Collection Report - January 13, 2014

Continuing the long-delayed collection report catch-up. First of 2014 here! Winter 2013-2014 was an ugly one in Maine. A lot of ice, a lot of biting wind, and a surprising lot of snow. So the collection reports for January - February ended up being more sporadic than hoped. Still, I got out when I could, and collected what I could.

Monday, January 13. 1PM, two hours before low-tide but water already way down. 40 degrees, wind from southeast off the water. Tons of wrack had washed in early in the month from winter storms. The shore was still blanketed with it this day.
And of course with wrack comes:
Winter storms toss wild stuff up on Maine shores. Expected and unexpected. Such as this fish head, bigger than my foot.
The consensus at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute was that it came from a bluefin tuna. Sometimes the "scrap" parts of fish are used as bait for lobstermen and other fishermen. Or possibly this tuna met its gruesome end naturally somewhere out in the deep.

The ocean and her mysteries.

Other washups were more run-of-the-mill. Old can scraps, new can scraps. Bait bags, vents, rope -- stuff that only makes it past the outcrops at the head of the cove when a storm comes through.

All in all, not surprisingly, a busy day.
70 pcs of rope, about 125 ft total
160 pcs of nonrope debris
230 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 70
  • Fishing misc.: 78 (9 trap parts, 2 bait tins, 9 bait bags, 7 bumpers, 2 nameplates, 2 vent doors, 39 pcs of vinyl trap coating, 8 clawbands)
  • Food-related plastics: 13 (3 bottle scraps, cap o-ring, 7 cup scraps, ketchup packet, snack pack wrapper)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 9 (2 locally dropped cans, 6 can tops, 1 scrap)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 24 (6 bag scraps, 2 latex balloons, 2 mylar balloon scraps, balloon string, old nonfood bottlecap, bandage, old shovel scoop, clip-on cupholder, cord, 3 crate seals, 3 cable ties, faceplate/bezel, lumber tag)
  • Scrap plastics: 35 ( 20 > 1" , 15 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 1 (rag)
The age & wear on many of these items helps tell their story:
abraded toy shovel scoop
faceplate - bezel - thing
If we would stop putting more plastic in the sea, eventually much of it would wash its way back out where we could clean it up. But barring the former, no amount of the latter is going to change the game.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 11490
  • Total from fishing -- 10005 (87.1%)
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 2014
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 7158

Friday, June 20, 2014

Collection Report - December 28, 2013

To readers of this blog it may seem that the Flotsam Diaries just went bye-bye. No! I've been visiting the beach in 2014 & recording. But getting them blogged hit roadblocks. Which I hope are behind!

So, without further ado, the next collection report. This from now half a year ago. Saturday, December 28, 2013. Noon, an hour before low tide. Lot of snow & flurries on the ground. Three storms back to back with little thawing.

Back of foreshore covered in snow. Foreshore down to tideline of course all cleared. A gorgeous, clean, white snow

Complete with rabbit tracks:
It was a day of overcast skies with peeks of sunshine. Hunters out in the marsh blasting shotguns -- geese flying off. With the snow, hard to say much difference from weeks past, all buried. But a beautiful day.

Low sun revealed every receding tideline lapping back. Able to count 28 or more individual waves receding.
As I was at home lying in bed, then making pancakes, the tide here at the cove was leaving this artwork on the ground.

Of course it wasn't all beauty, as ever. There was a lot of vinyl down low. I found the "line" of it, and it was kind of crazy how much popped up.

Overall, this all came out:
199 pcs of nonrope debris
199 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 0
  • Fishing misc.: 162 (137 vinyl trap coating scraps, 18 trap parts, 3 bumpers, 4 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 6 (bottlecap seal, 4 cup scraps, silverware scrap)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 0
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 8 (2 mylar balloon scraps, bag scrap, plant stake, 2 cable ties, 2 hard tubings)
  • Scrap plastics: 22 ( 10 > 1" , 12 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 1 (fabric scrap)
No picture of rope? That's because no rope washed in! Very unusual, but there was no rope in the non-snowy bits of beach that I was able to scour this week. Also very unusual was how much scrap trap debris was scattered around.
Don't want to step on this:
Plenty of that out there. 38,000 more traps like it each year.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 11260
  • Total from fishing -- 9857 (87.5%)
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1944
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 7119

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