Saturday, December 4, 2010

Collection Report Nov 24-25, 2010

Following on from the last post. This week, it all came together. The themes I've been trying to learn and look at since my first eye-opening stroll at Ocean Park. It's one thing to see litter that some thoughtless person left just an hour ago. It's quite another to see a tide line speckled with pulverized plastic that's been riding the surf for who knows how long.

In March, I didn't know how long the flotsam had been on the beach. Where it had come from. Anything. The story is different now. Nearly every week since mid-June I have scoured the beach at Bay View, cleaning two zones - the populous N zone and the quiet S zone - of every last piece of debris I can find. What I uncovered on November 24-25 wasn't there on November 17. It washed in, or was dredged up from the depths, over the course of one week.

Zone N:
135 finds:
  • Building materials: 7 (2 chunks of asphalt, 2 posts, 1 shard of brick, 2 bits of tile)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 5 (all probably from the boat hull)
  • Fishing misc.: 45 (19 rope scraps, 3 trap coating bits, 24 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 18 (inc. battered Dairy Queen spoon, scraps of plastic cups)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 3 (2 sliced beer can scraps, 1 sea glass)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 47 (inc. bag, green soldier, old ring, beach umbrella base, melted chunk of plastic, bandaid, rubberband, hairband, ponytail band, and 30 tiny shreds)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 2 (1 local, 1 floater)
  • Paper/wood: 1
  • Misc./unique: 7 (chey toy?, 3 scraps of fabric, 1 waistband, 1 bit of twine; oh, and half of the bottom of a boat!)
A nutty amount of debris for this time of year. And so much of it clearly (and even more arguably) lost long ago, or far away... or both. It was an embarrassment of riches for a Flotsam Diarist. Below are just a few of the standouts.
Once a carved post, now a marine condo
A DQ treat from another time
"A&A CHINA" made this abraded ring
So many, so small... How small?
This small. Any fish could swallow this
A wealth of fishing rope & claw bands
Most bands, even fresh, had bite marks
Foam from the back of the boat hull
It's amazing enough to see all this debris from Zone N. But Zone S is the "quiet" zone, far from the access path and much less traveled in season. Yet it was also choc-a-bloc.
87 finds:
  • Building materials: 2
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 1
  • Fishing misc.: 31 (8 claw bands, pieces of lobster trap coating bits, 1 trap bumper, 1 buoy scrap, 18 scraps of rope)
  • Food-related plastics: 5 (3 fork/spoon bits, wrapper, sauce pack with marine life inside)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 5 (1 can scrap, 4 bits sea glass)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 36 (inc. blue tube scrap, part of hard hollow ball/sphere, orange nylon band encrusted with kelp, electronics battery lid, clear lid/handle, pink button, red "flower" toy part, o-ring, bandaid)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 1 (floater)
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 6 (all fabric scraps)
There was fascinating stuff here too. Including a new vocabulary term for me: Bryozoa. Colonies of half-millimeter filter-feeding animals that had attached to, and multipled on, many of the pieces that had washed up in this zone.
McD's sauce pack, now also a condo
More colonies on this plastic cylinder
And still more on this ball/sphere
If there were any doubt about where so much of this debris is coming from, I hope that's been dispelled. And Zone S wasn't just washed-up biology experiments. It had the same kind of colorful plastic soup as its northern neighbor.
Colorful, and largely pulverized
Lastly, a curious piece, which I swear I didn't stage.
Found this driftwood lodged this way!
In one week, 76 pieces of Maine's fishing industry washed up on these small stretches of beach. Part of a pleasure craft. More than 50 tiny hard, colorful shards that once had an identity and a purpose, but now are only shiny fish fodder. Battered remnants of forgotten fast food, lingering on far past their use.

On the beach I picked up scraps of work-days. Scraps of clothing. Scraps of life. Each with its own story. Each whose "end" wasn't really an end at all. Your balloon that flew high into the air and disappeared? I have it. Your radio with the duct tape over the battery compartment? I have its lid. The boundary tape that blew away from the corner of your property, leaving you scratching your head about where to place that new fence? It's in my bag.

Every plastic thing that you've lost to wind & wave over the past lifetime? It's still there. It still exists.

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