Saturday, July 24, 2010

Snapshots of a Moving Target

A wise old Greek once said, "The only constant is change." He also said, "You cannot step twice into the same river, for other waters are ever flowing on."

He may as well have been describing the beach at Bay View.

Each week I step onto the sand, the scene evolves. Wind, waves, paws, feet, fingers, trowels. The timeless mechanics of moon and tide. The crumbling sand towers of a child's imagination. A "bonfire log" that makes its way up and down the beach from week to week.

Or a wrecked lobster trap that washes ashore with all its annual tags still intact...
(as seen on June 8, 2010 - no idea when it actually arrived)

...to a week later, when all the tags had been torn off and lay amid the wreckage...
(June 15, 2010)

...to a week later, when it was moved alongside a heavily wrecked friend...
(June 22, 2010)


...to a week later, when it was again by itself and all the tags had been stripped away except the owner's nameplate (found the tags dozens of yards away in the sand)...
(June 29, 2010)

...to, finally, a week later, when it was gone and forgotten:
(July 6, 2010)

All of which is to say that the beach is a dynamic place. A guy and a trash bag can't hope to understand everything that's happening, because it's happening all the time, day and night. It moves on, regardless of the schedule of a Flotsam Diarist.

And that's OK. Sometimes the best stories are the ones that don't answer all the questions, but instead leave you free to think up new ones to ask.

As a side note, I've started a page of all lobster trap tags I've uncovered in my wanderings. So far I've found tags identifying 14 unique traps lost to the sea and eventually washed up on shore. Here's the thing, each year the State of Maine issues licenses for some 3 million lobster traps. By some estimates, tens of thousands -- perhaps more than 100,000 -- are lost each year in Maine waters. (Like most "marine debris" issues, there's more guessing than facts. But the folks at the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation have started gathering the data, and are finding hundreds of old pots at a time.)

If the actual number of derelict lobster traps is only 1/100th of the worst case, that's still 10,000 traps lost over a decade. As the grills rust, and the plastic coatings tear and break loose, how many more of this...
or this...
...can you expect to find on your day at the beach?

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