Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Bountiful Shore: Collection Report June 22-2010

Tuesday, 6/22, 7:30AM saw me in the car on the way to Bay View. It had been 6-7 days since my first collection. I didn't know what to expect. I had scoured my two zones well the week before. But it had been hot & sunny (by Maine standards) -- and also early days of school vacation. What would an under-the-radar local beach offer?

A first glance on the N zone suggested an active week:
Signs of life at the party log
Caffeinated chain-smoking

I dug in. And I have to say, whatever I expected from zone N, this wasn't it.
205 finds!
  • Building materials: 1 (piece of wooden lathe/fence rail)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 9
  • Food-related plastics: 38 (inc. Hershey's, Rice Krispies Treats, AirHeads, various gum wrappers, 3 straws/stirrers, Listerine Cool Mint single-pack, "Great Value" granola bar)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 14 (inc. 2 bubble blowers, bandaid, plastic pail sticker, Trojan packet)
  • Cigarette filters: 93
  • Cigarette package debris: 5
  • Paper, identifiable: 7 (New England coffeecup, Hallmark store bag, Star magazine insert, salt packet, label for a folding chair, "Jack's Jokes" bubblegum joke card, scrap with food ingredients)
  • Paper, unidentifiable: 5
  • Glass bottle/can: 7 (2 beer bottles, beer can, can scrap, 3 bottlecaps)
  • Misc: 26 (gum, 2 pieces twine, plant pot, 3 socks, wooden kite rod, 2 pieces sea glass, 16 pieces of fireworks)
A few of the highlights:

Food plastics

Non-food ID'able plastics

Unknown plastics

All of this... in six days. A few were clustered -- the party trash around the log (beer, cigs, candy, and fireworks), the chainsmoking coffee-drinker. The rest were mostly random. Most of it was fresh. (Maybe 20 things had signs of age on them -- cig butts, the can scrap, most of the foam bits, a few candy wrappers. Either I missed them on 6/16, or winds and feet shifted the sands and revealed them.) Most of it was plausibly beach-related. The one thing that struck me: nothing fishing-related. No piece of line, no claw band, nada. First time ever since starting my beach jaunts.

Of the 205 items, a lucky wind would have easily blown at least 180 of them right into the ocean. What gets me is, maybe a lucky wind did just that with another 180 some time between 6/16 and 6/22. If so, who knows where and when they'll return to land? But one way or another, they probably will.

Compared to the N zone, the S zone was a different world.
Only 32 finds here.
  • Building materials: 1
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 7
  • Fishing rope: 2
  • Fish misc/claw bands: 1 (claw band)
  • Food-related plastics: 3 (inc. another "Great Value" granola bar wrapper)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 5 (beach umbrella base, Secret deodorant scrap, tissue box lid seal)
  • Cigarette filters: 10
  • Misc.: (2 sea glass, winter slipper)
Wow. This gave some cred to my initial hypothesis -- that beachgoers will stick to the N zone due to the "Private Beach" signs separating "N" from "S". Also, what was there was less identifiably "beach" stuff. The cigarette butts & granola wrapper, sure. But the abraded deodorant scrap, a plastic shred that maybe was a bottle cap LONG ago, the shreds of foam -- and especially the winter slipper (which I promise I didn't miss on 6/15!) -- those seem to tell a different story. One of washed up or blown in debris -- one that gets to the heart of what I'm trying to find out. Take the slipper.
As found on the beach

What happened here? Washed up last week? Buried by sand until last week? Not sure. But a quick peek at the bottom reveals...'s made of the kind of stuff that could survive months -- or years -- at sea.

Thus ends Week #2 at Bay View. A productive -- if maybe depressing -- window into how we treat our public spaces. Zone N was mostly littered by local, recent, beach-related trash. Zone S was more likely to be older trash, seemingly brought from elsewhere.

What will the next trip bring? Who knows.


  1. Hi Harry,

    So glad to see your flotsam blog up and running. I'm smiling to see your "finds"...
    I've not logged in much to your other work of art over at Vindolanda. Will try harder this year. :)

  2. Hiya! Thanks for coming over. :) Yes, two passions, on two continents! It's funny how the one feeds the other. Way more so than I imagined when I started this.

    Alas, has had a quiet summer so far, but there are occasionally some neat new photos. And a teasing trickle of info coming in about the goings-on. Glad to read on your blog that the annus horribilis is a thing of the past. Good riddance!