Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Collection Report Feb 23, 2011

Greetings again from sunny Bay View, Saco, Maine, February 23, 2011:
11:00AM, 30 degrees, ~2 hrs past low tide
The word of this week was "dull."
Only tiny organic powder on the tide lines
This week saw a mid-winter warmup (and then cool-down), and a bunch of very blustery days with winds gusting over 30 MPH (see bottom of links here and here). Yet, again, that energy didn't bring much to the shore. Why? Check out these charts.
Wk of 2/13-2/19, from
Wk of 2/20-2/26, from
Westerly winds. From 2/13 (the time of my last report) to 2/23,* our winds very rarely came from the east (that is, from the ocean). Whatever energy was being delivered to the surface of the ocean was being sent offshore and away from my beach.

Result? There wasn't a lot of debris -- natural or manmade -- this week. Here's Zone N:
52 finds:
  • Building materials: 0
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing misc.: 21 (trap scrap, 2 bits of rope, 7 claw bands, 11 trap coating scraps)
  • Food-related plastics: 5 (3 wads of chewing gum, 1 bottlecap seal, 1 gum wrapper)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 6 (bottlecap, 2 sea glass, can scrap, 2 wrappers)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 16 (inc. part of Xmas tree branch, pink doll dress, balloon scrap, o-ring, bottle cap, twist-tie)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 2
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 2 (leather sole scraps)
The winter usual, heavily dominated by fishing material and non-food plastics, including this adorable little rubbery-plastic doll's dress.
Size Zero
Otherwise, a typical -- if quiet -- week. As for Zone S?
20 finds:
  • Building materials: 1 (bit of asphalt)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing misc.: 9 (3 rope (2 very big pieces), claw band, 5 trap coating scraps)
  • Food-related plastics: 0
  • Food-related metal/glass: 1 (can scrap)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 3 (small scraps)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 1
  • Paper/wood: 1 (wrapper)
  • Misc./unique: 4 (leather scraps)
I won't pretend that this is exciting. I think even those two pieces of rope were just older bits finally unlocked from the ice.

Truth? It's wonderful to stroll a quiet beach and feel like it's actually clean, healthy. It's a reminder of a world we once had, and a world that our children deserve to have again. I'm glad for the respite. But I know it's an illusion. Even in the Arctic now, birds are dying with pieces of plastic lodged in their bellies. There is no safe haven from a throwaway world. Only, if we're lucky, a momentary reprieve. Next week, or the week after, or that gully-washer storm we'll get in April, reality will return home.

* Note that big blast of winds from the east on Friday 2/25? That may play into the next collection report; wait and see.


  1. My husband and I walk the beaches with our dogs in Gloucester, MA and find lots of bait bags for lobstering and other marine gear like cushions, life jackets, and gloves. We re-use everything on our own boats. Love your blog, I have always felt that the flotsom of life is indicative of our priorities. Love beach glass and pottery and have a wonderful collection too!

  2. Wow, never come across life jackets or cushions. Did find half of two boats washed up! Eerie, both times.

    I agree, it's fun to view what washes up in terms of archaeology -- the physical remains of a culture. It's neat to see what's there -- and what isn't.