Monday, May 16, 2011

Collection Report April 25, 2011

Back stateside after a great week in England. And slowly getting back into the flotsam frame of mind. At long last, the collection report from April 25.
9:50 AM, 2 hrs past high-tide; drizzly
For the first time in weeks, the beach held a visible kelp line -- finally things were making it back in to Saco Bay from the wider Gulf of Maine. (And of course, where there's kelp, there's plastic.) Then again, it wasn't really surprising that kelp had returned. I mean, when you stroll a familiar beach and find this washed up:
21+ feet of ancient tree brought in by a recent tide know it's been an interesting week. How interesting? Well, let's see. First, Zone N:
105 finds:
  • Building materials: 16 (10 chunks of asphalt, fence slat, 3 wood offcuts, brick, tile)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 25 (all kinds)
  • Fishing misc.: 17 (lobster trap bumper, shotgun shell wadding, 2 trap coatings, 2 trap scraps, 5 claw bands, 4 bits of rope, 2 bait bags)
  • Food-related plastics: 6 (Capri Sun + straw wrapper, straw, Mondavi wine label scrap, "Simplify" Advanced H2O water bottle, Blue Diamond hickory-smoked almonds wrapper)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 5 (can, scrap, glass mouth fragment, unID'd metal scrap, toothpaste tube)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 26 (5 baggies/wrappers, 8 string/ribbon/tiestring, twisted coil, black tape, 5 scraps > 1", 6 scraps < 1")
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 8
  • Paper/wood: 1 (note)
  • Misc./unique: 1 (string)
On Sunday, April 1417, there had been some surfing event that had filled the main parking lot & half the overflow. Given human nature, clearly some of the above comes from those beach-goers. (The food packs, cigarettes, probably some of that explosion of styrofoam.) Still, some stuff clearly wasn't the result of local litter.
Decaying aluminum toothpaste tube
It's hard to see a scenario where someone has chucked a tube of toothpaste out at the beach -- or out a car window into a gulley. There's surely a more interesting story behind this bizarre find. Much as there is with many of the pieces of debris that I find washed in. Careless & malicious littering are part of the story. They are not the whole story.

The bad news: Toothpaste tubes are one of the latest casualties of the "Make Everything Plastic" campaign. This aluminum tube is returning to the dust from which it came. 2011's varieties won't ever do that. As more of our world becomes plastic, more of it will persist when it gets lost to the environment. That's our future. Our present.

On to Zone S:
54 finds:
  • Building materials: 17 (14 asphalt chunks, 2 brick, shingle)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 10 (inc. obvious bits from Zone N)
  • Fishing misc.: 4 (2 trap bumpers, 2 trap coatings)
  • Food-related plastics: 3 (straw, cup, cap seal)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 3 (can scraps -- one freshly torn)
  • Non-food/unknown plastics: 13 (2 bag scraps, 2 string bits, 1 tiedown, golf ball, pushpin head, melted cup, 1 scrap > 1", 4 scraps, < 1")
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 3
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 1 (cloth rope)
Little of note here, except a nice window into how styrofoam blows down a beach.

So after a few weeks of calm, the storm returns. 159 more pieces of manmade junk, from a quiet beach in Maine.

A parting photo for this week, from Zone N:
I will always wonder just what on earth this means.

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