Sunday, April 10, 2011

Collection Report March 23, 2011

March 23, Bay View beach, Saco, Maine. Another beautiful sunny morning.
9:45AM, 32 degrees F, an hr past a very low tide
The sea was remarkably low. As on the previous week, live sand-dollars poked out of the terrace by the hundreds. And it was a thrill leaving footsteps on a strip of low sand I'd never even seen before.

Higher up, one of the high tides in the past week had lapped at the edge of the dunes, pushing the cat-tails of March 9 up with them.
High and dry
It takes power to send waves that far up the beach. But again, where's the fresh seaweed & other floating debris? Records show at least a couple days of winds blowing from the east. (That is, off the ocean toward shore.) Yet, as so often this winter, almost nothing floated into Saco Bay, or beached itself at Bay View.

Here's Zone N (the northern of the two zones I visit each week):
32 finds:
  • Building materials: 5 (asphalt chunk, 4 fence slats)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 9 (8 scraps, sponge)
  • Fishing misc.: 2 (lobster claw band, partial lobster trap tag "CANADA LOB")
  • Food-related plastics: 3 (#6 plastic cup scrap, popsicle wrapper, clingwrap)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 4 (sea glass)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 7 (tampon applicator, bottled water lid seal, 5 scraps)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 2
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 0
A tampon applicator three weeks in a row. That's just not nice. Otherwise, the most interesting piece was this trap tag fragment:
A journey of 150+ miles. But how
many months or years?
One thing that raised my eyebrow was the styrofoam. This was the first time in weeks that any significant batch of foam showed up.
A bit of everything
On to Zone S (the southern of the two zones I visit, separated from Zone N by about 100 feet):
13 finds:
  • Building materials: 4 (asphalt chunks)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 4 (coffee-cup base, 3 pieces styrofoam)
  • Fishing misc.: 1 (rail from lobster trap tag)
  • Food-related plastics: 1 (Poland Spring water bottle)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 1 (sea glass)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 1 (scrap)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 0
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 1 (ladies right size 4 "Liberty Brand" rubber shoe)
The bottle is grimy, but doesn't show sealife attached to it. The shoe is rotted and ruined, but can't tell whether it came from the sea or was buried in the sand for months/years. But look, more foam.
The orange chunks match the chunk
found in Zone N
Out of 45 pieces of litter, 13 were foam. Blowing the lid off that curve. So is that just a blip? Or does it mean something? I wish I knew.

Anyway, this week was a tiny haul. In two weeks at the end of December/beginning of January, I pulled up nearly 1,000 pieces of garbage, strewn among hundreds of blobs of seaweed. All of it, wreckage dragged into Saco Bay and heaved onto the sand by the Christmas storm. Since then, we've had nor'easters, we've had gales, storms, high seas, big weather. But there hasn't been another beaching -- of seaweed or plastic or both -- on anything like that scale since.

Wouldn't it be nice to believe that one big storm could rid a gulf of its man-made burden? I wish I believed that.

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