Thursday, December 9, 2010

Collection Report Dec 1-2, 2010

Welcome back to Bay View beach, Saco, Maine. December 1 was mild, mid-40s, but blustery. (In fact, a gust clocked at 41 mph.) Gray clouds were gathering, so I snuck in before the rains -- and the next high tide.
The flats at low tide
Remember the two tide lines & the berm of just one week before? All that stuff I thought I was figuring out about how the contour of the beach was changing? Well, do you see any of that in the picture below?
Me neither
Clearly I have a lot to learn about how wind & tide, current & rain really behave. Here's one thing I did discover. The winds buffeting me on Dec. 1 were largely from the SE; they were blowing in, fiercely at times, off the ocean. Pushing the tide unnaturally high, and blasting the heck out of the prior week's landscape.

At first I thought this meant another bumper crop of debris, fishing rope, boats, you name it. But it wasn't to be. Bay View had been assaulted by forces that can bury 3 feet of fishing rope without a thought.
What do you mean three feet?
Oh, that's what you mean.
It was dumb luck that I found that bit of rope. Most anything else? Blown away or buried deep. In the end, my trash bags were very light.

On December 2, I decided to take another quick swing by. The lay of the land looked much the same. The wind had raised foot-high sand drifts in places. And did other weird things.
Sand blows, but leaf doesn't blow?
When I spotted this leaf, I knew this week's collection would be hopeless. A light, dry leaf didn't blow away, but the sand did blow across and nearly cover it. WTH?

A short walk up Zones N & S proved I was right. Very little debris to be found. Not that it wasn't there, just that it couldn't be seen.

So, a collection of Zone N:
37 finds:
  • Building materials: 3 (2 fence slats, 1 chunk of asphalt)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 6 (inc. a piece from the boat insulation)
  • Fishing misc.: 8 (7 scraps of rope, 1 claw band)
  • Food-related plastics: 2 (bottle caps)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 4 (aluminum can, can scrap, 2 bits of sea glass)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 11 (3 scraps of packaging, 2 bits of grocery bags, 3 hard plastic scraps, 1 scrap of boundary tape, 1 tiny bit of balloon, 1 sm. red hard plastic bit)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 1
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 2 (scrap of fabric, freshly-lost tennis ball (dog toy?))
A bunch of usual suspects. Though, to be honest, 37 is more than I thought I'd collected. It doesn't take long to add up.

On to Zone S:
18 finds:
  • Building materials: 2 (fence slat, chunk of asphalt)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 4
  • Fishing misc.: 4 (shotgun shell wadding, 2 bits of rope, claw band)
  • Food-related plastics: 0
  • Food-related metal/glass: 0
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 8 (bag scrap, green soldier, tampon applicator, bandaid, tie-band, clear scrap, green scrap, yellow scrap)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 0
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 0
Quick closeup of the small, but delightfully varied, non-food plastics:
Would be OK not finding another tampon applicator
So this week, I was well & truly schooled. Nov. 24-25 had put assumptions in my head that didn't last seven days. Which just proves that it might be a bit early for me to be making assumptions. Still, every idea that we get wrong gets us one step closer to getting it right.

Besides, I like a world that's full of surprises.


  1. Harry -

    Great work! I like "would be OK not finding another tampon applicator." No kidding, right? I have a long list of "would be OK not to find..."

    The rope. I found a plastic bag like that recently. Ugh. What lies beneath, right?

    Composing my recycling post now!

    keep it up!

  2. a) I do not understand why plastic tampon applicators are still manufactured when there are so many other, less-plasticky options.

    b) I cannot fathom (no pun intended) how a plastic tampon applicator winds up on a beach.

    c) Is it time to put sat tags on all this stuff as soon as it is in the hands of the consumer, so we can see where it began its journey????

  3. Re C, I'd -love- to have trackers that could show exactly where some of this stuff starts from! On my own I've looked into RF tags & GPS tags for some drift tests. But always the range is too small or the price is too high. I'm still looking.

    Re A, agree. But we're plastic silly-season right now. -Everything- is plastic, and it's just getting worse. Re B (love the pun), either flushed down the toilet, or blown/pulled out of a trash can. (A 3rd option - applied on the beach, in 30 degree weather - we're just not going to go there.)

    Our city's got a great Web site showing all city services on a map, including storm-drain outlets. One of my plans is to check out some of those outlets and see what household stuff has come out of it.