Sunday, March 20, 2011

Collection Report March 2, 2011

Bay View beach, Saco, ME, March 2, 2011.
1:30PM, 1 1/2 hrs before low tide, 30-something degrees F
Mostly overcast, the sun shining its spotlight on the shore first here, then there.
Go into the light Carol Ann!
This week brought something to Bay View that had been lacking through much of February:
Energy
A combination of strong surf and easterly winds during the previous week finally started bringing the sea's floating bounty back into Saco Bay. And where there's organic mush, there's:
Plastic
32 pieces of plastic from that one mass of wood & plant matter alone. Because in 2011, the one always seems to go with the other.

So, after a subdued February, accumulation is back. Here's Zone N:
142 finds:
  • Building materials: 7 (3 asphalt chunks, 3 brick bits, concrete)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing misc.: 97 (74 bits of lobster trap coating, 20 claw bands/scraps, trap fragment, bumper, rope scrap)
  • Food-related plastics: 9 (4 bottle cap seals, 2 chewing gum, 3 silverware)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 3 (can scrap, 2 sea-glass bits)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 22 (inc. chinstrap, hairband, vinyl upholstery scrap, bandaid, car spark plug wire clip)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 0
  • Paper/wood: 1 (cardboard scrap)
  • Misc./unique: 3 (leather rectangle, cord, firework base)
It's definitely been the Winter of Fishing Debris.
Industry
Those 74 bits of trap coatings (not to mention the claw bands) are a drop in the bucket. Each year, tens of thousands of lobster traps are lost to the seafloor. As they rust, the coatings burst and slowly trickle up to the surface. Each trap can release 1000+ bits by the time it's done rusting away. So each year, tens of millions of potential floating, colorful bits of plastic are added to the Gulf of Maine by derelict traps. Which is why the work the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation is so crucial. They spearhead efforts to recover hundreds of lost lobster traps at a time - most recently in Casco Bay off Portland's coast.

On to Zone S:
70 finds:
  • Building materials: 5 (2 asphalt chunks, 3 pieces of brick)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing misc.: 30 (11 bands, 18 trap coatings, bungee rope from lobster trap)
  • Food-related plastics: 3 (2 bottle cap seals, polystyrene cup scrap)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 2 (can scraps)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 27 (inc. dog-chew tennis ball, degraded comb scrap, marker cap scrap, 2 bandaids, vinyl upholstery scraps)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 0
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 3 (cord, firework base, leather sole scrap)
Mostly the same story. But then... there's still always more in Zone N than in Zone S. Even in winter. Even though both zones are the same length. Why? The steeper slope of Zone S? The low-tide rock outcrop near Zone N? And it's starting to seem that Zone S collects more bits of leather than Zone N. Can two sections of the same beach, barely a football field from each other, really have noticeably different signatures?

I don't know.

What I do know is, every time I wander the shore, trying to figure it out a bit more, I find more reasons to keep coming back.
Another ephemeral masterpiece

No comments:

Post a Comment