Sunday, October 16, 2011

Collection Report Oct 2, 2011

Early October, and the rain and drear lay thick for several days. During a very lucky ~45-minute break on October 2, I managed to hit the beach long enough to make a fair collection.
The wrack line was back. And with it, the usual suspects. And at least one unusual suspect:
Fading light on 10/1 when my daughter & I discovered
The evening before, my daughter and I wandered the beach as dusk gathered, and found this odd gift from the sea down at the southern end of my "zones." Fortunately it was still there the next morning. A better picture on Oct 2:
Logtek, Inc. is a fishing supply company from Tusket, Nova Scotia, Canada. As the Gulf of Maine Lobster Foundation explained to me, that doesn't necessarily mean that this floated in from 200 miles away. These crates are in general circulation among fishermen up and down the Gulf, and this one may have fallen off a more nearby dock. Still, it had clearly been bobbing in the sea for a long time.
How many more?
Another good mystery, probably never to be solved. (Though the bin did seem to have remnants of a serial #. Might just be a way to learn more about it sometime.)

The crate may have become flotsam from an unavoidable mishap. But the nine (!) balloons that I found were completely preventable litter. A few were latex (which supposedly disintegrates over time). But many were mylar -- a plastic that persists on & on. My daughter and I went to Saco's harvest festival yesterday. As we watched balloon after balloon escape up into the atmosphere, I wondered how many people actually realize that what goes up eventually comes down.

Anyway, back to 10/2, it's now obvious that scouring of Bay View by Irene is over. Easterly winds have started to bring the ocean's payload back to shore. Crates, balloons, and this double-headed lobster buoy among it:
On to the collection. Zone N:
68 finds:
  • Building materials: 0
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 10
  • Fishing misc.: 11 (2 buoys, buoy scrap, buoy rod, 3 claw bands, 2 rope, rope twine, shotgun shell wadding)
  • Food-related plastics: 12 (2 bottle caps, 2 cups, 2 tops, 6 wrappers)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 0
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 22 (4 balloons, 4 latex gloves, pacifier, cord, Hooksett disc, 6 non-food packaging, 2 scraps >1", 3 scraps <1")
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 12
  • Paper/wood: 1
  • Misc./unique: 0
My big question: How is this good advertising?

Number-wise, a small haul. But a dreary week, soaking-wet beach, and a rain-curtailed collection played a part in that. The buoys, balloons, and disc from the NH sewage treatment plant disaster in March prove that the post-Irene lull is over. On to Zone S:
60 finds:
  • Building materials: 0
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 21
  • Fishing misc.: 5 (crate from Nova Scotia, 2 buoy scraps, rope twine, claw band)
  • Food-related plastics: 7 (2 bottles, bottlecap, 2 cups, food wrapper, straw)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 0
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 18 (3 bags/scraps, 4 balloons & 1 balloon end, bottlecap, flosser, Hooksett disc, 2 scraps >1", 5 scraps <1")
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 9 (8 filters, 1 packaging)
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 0
An unheard-of thing. Almost the same amount of garbage in Zone S as Zone N. And almost the same kinds of stuff. Which strongly suggests that the week of October 2 was ruled by wave & wind, not the tromping of local feet.

A final thought.
Beer bottlers have succeeded in convincing Eastern Europe to accept plastic beer bottles. It's cheaper for them to produce, and shifts the environmental burden to the unwary consumer. Western Europe and America have resisted. But as this plastic Coors bottle shows, the bottlers aren't going to stop. And are making inroads. The next time you visit a grocery store or drug store, look around at the packaging. Whatever you see that's not yet made of plastic, will be. Marine Debris Conferences aside, plastic pollution is just getting warmed up.


  1. It's good advertising so that you find the culprits and convince them to alter their ways of waste, use and containers. Passing the message along from one to another to another!

  2. Interesting post. Can you tell me how you came up with your categories when sorting what you find? I made mine up and there are some similarities and some differences. Is there a standard?

    Balloons! I found loads this summer, including one on a local beach - SW tip of England - that came from a school in Manchester, which is in NW England and not by the sea......

  3. Great point Debbie - a good chance to start a conversation!

    Re the categories, that's just kind of how they "fell out" when I was doing my earliest sorting a year and a half ago. I've tried looking at data sheets from Ocean Conservancy, NOAA, etc., but they missed too much of what I was finding. As far as I can tell, there is no standard yet. However, there's an iPhone/Android app called "Debris Tracker" that offers 50 or so really specific categories.

    I like my system, especially for the blog, as a nice balance between too much breakdown and too little. But if I were restarting it, I'd probably break "non-food plastic" into "beach-related" and "non-beach-related." Other than that, the categories have served fairly well.