Monday, January 10, 2011

Collection Report Dec 29, 2010

Here at last, long-delayed. December 29, two days after the fabled "Christmas storm." Though the mid-Atlantic was hit hard, Maine saw an average -- even light -- nor'easter. I arrived at Bay View beach late morning, low tide, to this:
A long morning - kelp beds carry far more than kelp
This report will have limited commentary. The pictures are enough. Keep in mind, this is from tide line, a few hundred feet of beach in southern Maine, in 28 degrees F. The same stretch of beach I've cleaned fastidiously nearly every week since June.

First, "Zone N" - the northerly of the two sections I clean, closest to the public access, and more populated during the summer months.
341 finds:
  • Building materials: 3
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 3
  • Fishing misc.: 75 (36 lobster claw bands, 14 bits of vinyl trap coating, lure, "Lunker Fishing" packet scrap, 1 webbed basket, sinker bead, 2 monofilaments, 19 bits of rope)
  • Food-related plastics: 55 (11 scraps of #6 drinking cup, 17 bits of cutlery, 13 bottlecap seals, 1 "medium-well" steak tag, 2 bread tags, 11 misc.)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 9 (7 can scraps, 2 bottle caps)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 180 (you name it, it's there)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 1
  • Paper/wood: 1 (golf tee)
  • Misc./unique: 14 (13 fabric scraps, 1 piece of cord)
Summer's fare, lurking offshore til the storm
Misc. confetti of modern life
Closeup of some misc. plastic
Shovels, pail bits, umbrella bases, etc.
Broken ruler helps size other flotsam
Whither the missing comb teeth?
Aluminum cans degrading
The cost of a robust fishing economy
Many bands had apparent bite marks
On to "Zone S" -- the southern zone, separated from Zone N by a private patio built out slightly onto the beach, and thus much quieter & less-traveled in summertime:
137 finds:
  • Building materials: 1
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing misc.: 21 (12 claw bands, 3 vinyl trap coating bits, 1 shotgun shell, 5 bits of rope)
  • Food-related plastics: 15 (7 bottlecap seals, 3 bread wrapper tags, bottle cap, spoon, fork tine, 2 scraps of drinking cup)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 9 (can scraps)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 89 (a little of everything)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 2 (1 cigarette and one plastic cigar end)
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 0
More confetti
More fishing debris
July 19, what year?
Recycling doesn't close the loop;
it restarts it
My highest weekly total ever. 478 pieces of trash washed up from one storm. And it's simply not possible that I got it all - the kelp was too thick and sandy to turn over every last bit of it, try as I might.

An aside:

Last week there was a dustup when a researcher in Oregon suggested that the extent of plastic pollution was exaggerated. Here's how you can really find the truth. Look down at your feet. That's all you have to do.

Maine is nowhere near a great ocean gyre. Its currents are fed from the north by waters that flow along the least populated parts of the Atlantic Ocean. And yet here is the waste of modern life washing around me. Nearly 500 pieces of plastic along 500 feet of beach, when Maine's tidal shoreline is 3,500 miles.

So fine; it's true that the plastic doesn't swirl in a vortex twice the size of Texas.

It swirls everywhere.

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