Thursday, April 21, 2011

Collection Report April 7, 2011

Welcome back to Bay View, Saco, Maine.
April 7, 2011, 9:10AM, 1 hr past low tide
"Welcome," I think?
Deadly algae aside, it was a beautiful, and odd, day. It had been another week of major storms, pounding surf, high seas. The beach slope had steepened noticeably. Big things had happened. Yet I found a grand total of 3 things floated in & beached.
This kelp is one of them
Storm, wave, wind -- nothing is bringing floatables into Saco Bay from the wider Gulf of Maine this spring. Compare that to the storms of Feb/March 2010 that got me started on this whole thing:
Ocean Park, Mar 19, 2010 - live clams & kelp
Back to the present, I've at least learned a key rule: Want to make the ocean laugh? Tell yourself that you know how it works. Prime example from April 7, 2011:
Zone S, the southern, more narrow area of beach
Now that's just weird. No kelp. No seaweed. No seashells. No plastic. Just tens of thousands of rocks & cobbles, neatly assembled into mounds. The northern stretch, Zone N, had lots of strewn rocks. But nothing like down here at Zone S, just 100 feet away. Massive, organized energy had to hit this stretch of beach to do this. And as I alluded in my last post, that energy isn't uniform. It crests & troughs up and down the shore. It's the same energy that carves out Bay View's sandy cusps. This time, it got a little more intense. (Oddly enough, these neat piles of rock didn't square up one-to-one with the cusps above them. Each tide seems to have its own frequency -- its own pattern.)

So, on to the collection. Zone N:
31 finds:
  • Building materials: 20 (15 chunks of asphalt, 3 brick pieces, wooden block, tile with rubberized backing)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 2 (styrofoam scrap, blue sticky-back foam shape)
  • Fishing misc.: 0
  • Food-related plastics: 1 (chewing gum)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 2 (bottle cap, seaglass)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 0
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 4 (all recently smoked)
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 2 (leather shoe sole, scrap of rubberized soundproofing/watershield)
And next, Zone S:
61 finds:
  • Building materials: 57 (40 asphalt chunks, 15 brick pieces, worn flowerpot base scrap, fence post)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing misc.: 0
  • Food-related plastics: 0
  • Food-related metal/glass: 2 (seaglass)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 1 (tennis ball)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 0
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 1
By any angle, this blows the roof off of 10 months of trends. Only the shoe sole floated in. Everything else was local. Even the asphalt & brick. I don't think it was recently dredged up deep at sea. If it had been, the shore would be littered with clams, mussels, snails -- seafloor stuff. My hunch? It's material that's collected over the years down at the low-tide terrace, and is usually buried lightly by sandy outwash. This week, the storms blew away the sand, and blasted the rocks up the slope. In Zone N they scattered willy-nilly. In Zone S, they massed together into little islands. Same beach, same weather, two totally different worlds.
Zone N, low-tide terrace
I love this stuff.


  1. I was brought up by the sea, Harry, and can "see" the attraction. I love being out here in Hadrian's Wall Country but there is just the odd day when I could be by the seashore. There is a lovely Geordie word for pulling up one's trousers and going in the sea. It is called "plodgin'".....rock pools are wonderful places for discovering things at low tide. :)

  2. Plodgin'! I love it, it's perfect. Just south of Saco there are a couple excellent rock pool-beaches. So far I've only uncovered huge batches of snails and a couple shrimp, but I'm hoping to find starfish, anemones, maybe even a seahorse. It's one of the things I love most about this. I started out by recording the ugly, but along the way it's helped me learn to appreciate the beautiful too.