Saturday, February 5, 2011

Collection Report Jan 14, 2011

Friday, January 14, 11:30AM. Brrr!
This day was calm, and very peaceful. Almost no wind at all, and the tide was out. But a big Nor'easter had come through on Wednesday 1/12, and left its mark.
Snow strata and bowed grass
Sand-snow-sand sandwich
And wait. Something's missing. All that kelp from the Christmas storm. My first hunch was that the storm had swept much back to sea. After all:
Look, a carpet of debris clearly
being swept back to sea*
Then again, a few kicks at the sand-ice layer cake higher up revealed:
Fresh kelp, buried & frozen solid
So, what would I find? As always, questions led to answers, which only led to more questions. A quick look at tide-line showed plenty of plastic bits. But a few kicks up in the ice banks showed more bits of plastic buried & locked up tight. Anyway, enough build-up. On to the collection. Here's Zone N:
107 finds:
  • Building materials: 1 (bit of plastic house siding)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 1
  • Fishing misc.: 64 (13 claw bands, 42 trap coatings, wooden trap base, 8 bits of rope)
  • Food-related plastics: 7 (3 bits of gum, package corner, 2 cap seals, straw wrapper)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 6 (bottle cap, glass neck, 3 can scraps, wrapper)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 22 (inc. tube, 3 rubberbands, 2 bandaids, lighter, electrical tubing, 2 "blobs", bottlecap with "V" on top, green square base)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 0
  • Paper/wood: 3 (fence slat, turned plug, painted chip)
  • Misc./unique: 3 (leather scrap, cord scrap, paperboard embedded with twine)
Fishing debris won the day in Zone N. But what also struck me was the huge variety in the non-plastic bits. And how long some of them had obviously been floating.
that's a lot of sun/surf damage
When lobster traps die, slowly
A frayed knot
As always, Zone S was a very different picture. For one thing, the beach here is narrower and steeper than Zone N. That's clearly having some kind of effect on what gets deposited/swept away - and how. But I'm still in learning mode with figuring it out. At any rate, its visible/reachable haul was much less than Zone N:
33 finds:
  • Building materials: 1 (chunk of asphalt)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing misc.: 13 (claw band, 7 trap coatings, trap bumper, jagged edge scrap, 3 bits of rope)
  • Food-related plastics: 2 (bottlecap seals)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 7 (2 sea glass, 4 can scraps, wrapper scrap)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 7 (rubber scrap, sewn disc, 2 bag scraps, stamped vinyl scrap, 2 very brittle scraps)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 0
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 3 (stamped leather scrap, leather disc, glove)
That's not all that was there. But it -was- all that I could get my hands on. Including one piece I didn't want to get my hands on.
(Starting with this report, I'm going to post extra finds pictures to the Flotsam Diaries Facebook page. I'd love to see you there!)

So. I'd love to be happy that my final count was back down to 140. But I know that the storm and the frigid weather pushed debris high up the shore and locked it into ice. Sadly, a very active & cold weather pattern descended on Maine after this collection. As of today, Feb. 5, I haven't been able to get back and do a proper collection since Jan. 14. So that's a couple weeks missed. Frustrating.

But I'm sure of two things: (1) When the ground thaws and I get back, there will be plenty to find; and (2) as cold and unforgiving as the shore may be in a Maine winter, I'll never be alone:
There is no off-season

* I love the "carpet" picture. If you follow a river from the mountains to the sea, you notice something. The sediment at the top, the fastest part of a river, is rocky, chunky, big. As the river gets closer to the ocean, and the land slopes more gently, it slows down. So the size of the sediment it can carry gets smaller too. Boulders to cobbles... cobbles to pebbles... pebbles to sand & silt. The same thing happened here. The waves, crashing back, lost the biggest bits of debris at the highest part of the beach. Each line down the shore is smaller & smaller. More of nature's own engineering, right in front of my eyes.

1 comment:

  1. Harry -

    We need help getting a plastic bag message viral - can you email me with a good contact email for you if you want to help?