Thursday, June 3, 2010

What lies beneath

Memorial Day has come and gone, and the unofficial start of Maine summer is here. At local beaches, that means one thing:

Industrial Cleanup (June 2, 2010)

At Ocean Park, summer tourism = beach tourism. And beach tourists expect clean sand. So for the past week the tractors have been hard at work, trawling, smoothing, respreading. And clearing away the huge mounds of kelp along with their tangled flotsam.

Former site of kelp field

Looks pretty good. But again... dig a little deeper. I stuck my toe in the sand, and found kelp. I dug down with my hands, more kelp. I spent about 2 minutes casually hand-sifting and digging through a few square feet. And in just that time, I found, amid the decaying organic matter:

Plastic debris found amid buried kelp

The tractoring, and the trawling -- it wasn't actually ridding the beach of all its junk. Much was just being churned up, covered over, made to look good. No doubt the intent is to let nature run her course with the organics and eventually leave clean sand through & through. But nature can't run her course with everything. There are things churned into the sand that do not go away.

Still, this does give me a little more insight into some of what I've been finding at the beach. Yes, clearly much is washing in from the ocean. But perhaps other bits too were lost right here one summer past, and then churned under the sands for years until re-emerging? It really does make you wonder just how much is lying in wait. And how much more is added every year. Especially when the technology tasked with removing it isn't able to do so.
Debris left on ground in wake of tractors


  1. Harry, it's you! my new source for coastal updates, how am I to stay of sound mind when I'm continuosly witnessing the disposal of cigarette butts out of cars? just throwing THAT out there, Patrick is our resident archeologist, perhaps he can assist you in this endeavor... thanks

  2. You found me! But wait -- all I see from you is "Anonymous"?? You have me at a disadvantage!