Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Collection Report May 20, 2011

After a week away in England, I hit the beach again on a gray, cold, drizzly Friday at the end of a gray, cold, drizzly week.
1:30PM, 50 degrees, about an hr before high tide
Wild times had happened while I had been away:
Which thing doesn't belong? Right, both things!
This log was one of 4 or 5 tree-sized pieces of flotsam that had rolled in. It lay just north of my Zone N, but was too alluring to leave be. So I wandered up and checked it out. En route, I saw a mass of plastic things washed up outside my usual zones. A couple examples:
1 of 3 bucket parts strewn over 250 yds
Bait bag, bottle, shotgun shell, etc.
Motor oil, w/cap brittle & sun-bleached
The more I walked, the more seaweed, plastic garbage, etc. Since I didn't have manpower or energy to collect the whole shore, I went back to my zones and got to work. Wet sand stuck to everything; it was tricky separating out flotsam. But I did my best. And in the end, I made a big haul. Zone N:
116 finds:
  • Building materials: 2 (asphalt chunks)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 36
  • Fishing misc.: 4 (shotgun shell, claw band, 2 craps of buoy)
  • Food-related plastics: 18 (Powerbar, Pepsi, Lifesaver, and Life Water wrappers, 2 un-ID'd wrappers, Pringle's lid, straw, 3 bottle caps, coffee cup lid, degrading blue PS cup scrap, sandwich sauce/oil cup, 3 scraps, base of old-school 2-liter bottle)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 6 (bottle, can, can scrap, 3 sea glass)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 37 (13 bits of bag/film, bucket rim, 2 shovels, screw cap, sunspray nozzle cap, "Ames True Temper" label, wristband, umbrella base, pen cap, ribbon, 4 scraps > 1", 10 scraps < 1")
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 11 (10 filters, 1 plastic wrap)
  • Paper/wood: 2 (wood offcuts)
  • Misc./unique: 0
Some local food-related drops from the week of May 7-14, which was supposedly warm & sunny. Shovels, sunspray, umbrella base probably from the same time. But some pretty interesting trends. No fishing rope, when that was the bulk of what was washing up in winter. 36 more pieces of foam, which seems to follow the spring styrofoam trend.

And then this.
Jagged chunk taken out of 2-liter bottle base
After conferring with the Plastic Pollution Coalition, marine biologist Dr. Wallace J. Nichols, and Paul Sharp at Two Hands Project who have all seen their fair share of it, the consensus is that these are animal bites. Probably a bunch of bites over time, rather than one huge chomp. Whatever toxins are in this material -- or collected on its surface while it floated -- are now inside the food web. We might be eating some of this very bottle the next time we have a nice cod or haddock dinner. (Assuming of course that the plastic didn't rip apart and kill the animal(s) from the inside.)

It's not just a question of aesthetics when plastic floats in the water. It goes way, way beyond that.

On from there to Zone S:
47 finds:
  • Building materials: 3 (asphalt)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 18
  • Fishing misc.: 3 (rope, gnarled trap scrap, lure)
  • Food-related plastics: 5 (bottle cap, baggie, Nestle Pure Life label, degraded sauce/oil cup scrap, water bottle tear-off safety tag)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 1 (sea glass)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 13 (5 bits of bag/film, spray bottle filler tube, Victorinox Swiss army knife package, linoleum scrap, 1 scrap > 1", 4 scraps < 1")
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 2 (plastic wrappers)
  • Paper/wood: 1 (offcut)
  • Misc./unique: 1 (small cloth scrap)
Again, much less in Zone S than Zone N, despite the wild weather and the huge amount that washed in farther north. Something about the beach here is vastly different from just 100 feet to the north. Other than that, not a lot of surprises here. It did feel good getting this particular emergency-room visit off the beach at least:
And there we go. 163 more usual suspects, unusual suspects, and just plain head-shakers added to the ever-growing list.


  1. Thanks for all you do, and I'm learning a lot from your blog, too! The "teeth" marks on the bottle are amazing...they look too even, to me, to have been done over a period of time, unless by the same type and size of animal. A shark, maybe?

  2. That kinda struck me too, that all the teeth marks look like the same kind of animal. I've got to defer to the pro's on this one, as I'm out of my depth! I do wonder if maybe the way it looked/floated tended to attract only one species of biter? One of those tantalizing mysteries from the sea.