Saturday, February 25, 2012

Collection Report Jan 30, 2012

Monday, January 30, 11:30AM. Bay View beach, Saco, ME. Low tide. Blue skies, mild wind from the west to east, maybe gusts to 20 mph.
Another week of weak tides and no fresh seaweed washed in. But there -was- a wrack line, mostly made up of land-based plant matter. And noticeable bits of plastic in the mix.
What happened to all the fresh sand dumped onshore the week before? It all slumped down to the terrace -- a slow-motion mudslide.
Quicksand a foot deep,
literally mush underfoot
Clearly, the beach "knew" that this batch of fresh sand didn't belong. It didn't fit or mesh into the rest of the beach. Instead, the beach sloughed it off, and each tide eroded more of it back out to sea. Sometimes leaving depressions or bowls where the scour was the strongest.
More interesting from a flotsam aspect is that, this week, stuff was actually left behind -- or exposed by the erosion. Zone N:
65 finds:
  • Building materials: 5 (4 asphalt, 1 brick)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 27
  • Fishing misc.: 7 (rope, clawband, shotgun shell wadding, 4 trap vinyl coating scraps)
  • Food-related plastics: 4 (2 bottlecaps, two tear-off tops)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 5 (can bottom, 4 sea glass)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 5 (rubberband, silk flower, PVC pipe scrap, 2 scraps <1")
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 7
  • Paper/wood: 3
  • Misc./unique: 2 (tiny scrap of yarn, sharp metal offcut)
Crumpled up on the sand was a nice cautionary tale.
A receipt from Fayetteville, NCNY!
(many thx for heads-up on that)  
Obviously this didn't wash in; it came out of a very local pocket. A good reminder not to jump to conclusions about where something came from without good evidence. (See recent reports of Japanese tsunami debris already reaching US west coast.)

Zone S:
23 finds:
  • Building materials: 2 (asphalt, brick)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 12
  • Fishing misc.: 2 (trap vinyl coating scraps)
  • Food-related plastics: 0
  • Food-related metal/glass: 4 (tiny scrap of can, 3 sea glass)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 0
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 0
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 3 (leather offcuts)
By the time I left, the winds had picked up. The dry wrackline was quickly blowing down to the terrace.
To be washed away.
Where will it wash up next? And what will wash up with it?

Monday, February 20, 2012

(Un)Collection Report, Jan 23, 2012

Once again, playing catchup! So, a return back to an interesting late January at Bay View beach, Saco, Maine. 1/23, 1:00PM, about 2 hours after high tide.

This day brought two things that had been missing from Saco Bay for months:
Wild times at Bay View. One of the three washed-in traps had readable tags, the most recent being 2007. Would love to know its 4+ year story. Same with this mangled beast:
Fisherman's boot
That boot wasn't lost yesterday.

Yet for all the energy on display, the angry waves at first seemed to have left little else behind.
Blank slate
Other than the traps & boot (which lay north of my collection zones), there was nothing to see. It took a little (literal) digging, but I found out why.
Scraping down from six inches to (in places) over a foot and a half, I uncovered fresh, buried snow from the week's snowstorm. After the snows, the sea dumped countless tons of heavy, gritty sand as a blanket. Burying everything. A pretty major shore-sculpting event, following on from the rocky deposits left the week before. Quite strange -- the weather had been blustery, but enough to bring up that kind of sand?

The flipside is, sand is pretty much all that got left, at least on the surface. Maybe plastics were mixed in. But there was no way to dig through everything to find it. So this trip was a very fast, and very unsatisfying, collection.

Zone N:
10 finds:
  • Building materials: 1 (asphalt)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 7
  • Fishing misc.: 0
  • Food-related plastics: 0
  • Food-related metal/glass: 0
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 2 (baggie, bandaid)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 0
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 0
Otherwise known as: nothing.

Zone S:
11 finds:
  • Building materials: 1 (asphalt)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 5
  • Fishing misc.: 2 (rope scrap, vinyl trap coating)
  • Food-related plastics: 1 (ketchup wrapper)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 0
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 1 (vinyl siding scrap)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 1
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 0
Otherwise known as: still nothing.

I don't know where the sand from this big wash-in came from. Whether it was carried in suspension by a choppy sea for miles, or dredged up from the terrace line right here at Bay View. All I know is that this was a sand week. Some weeks are vinyl, some polyethylene, some asphalt, some shell, some seaweed. This was just gritty, heavy, pure sand.

So, again, oceans are amazing things. And you never visit the same beach twice.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Collection Report Jan 16-17, 2011

January 16, 2012. 11:35AM, Bay View beach, Saco, Maine, just after high-tide. Winter finally arrived, about two months late for this part of the world. And the previous week had seen some good stormy weather to boot. At about 20 degrees F, "layering" was the word of the day.
On the foreshore, the snow was gone, but a sheet of ice held fresh wrackline -- with its tag-alongs -- in its grip.
This marks the first of a remarkable few weeks at the beach. Not necessarily for the flotsam washed up, but for how shorelines work in winter. Take a look at this pebbly wasteland at the edge of the low-tide terrace.
It turns out, this isn't the usual rocky substrate, revealed by a week of erosion. It's the opposite. Under these pebbles the old sand was one big block of ice, locked firmly in place by winter's descent. All of this rocky debris was hurled violently on top of the old sand layer. By the kind of churning sea that was able to cast offshore oddities like this high up the slope.
Tossed it back in, maybe still alive
Thousands of tube-worm casts
amid the rock & shell
The sea made a bed of offshore flotsam and left it high & dry once the tide receded. I even found a pebble that was completely encrusted with barnacles. These rocks aren't local substrate; they're seafloor rocks (and even one oyster shell -- my first at Bayview) from out beyond the tide line that the previous week's weather hurled up.

Proof that when you freeze a shoreline, and then throw in a nice churning storm in the mix, you've very much changed the game. Look also at how the ocean left the signature of her wave energy in the pebbles.
What an amazing world.

Anyway, for this day, the ice along the wrack sealed much of the plastic. I got what I could, then returned at low tide on the 17th to collect what had thawed.

So, for Zone N:
66 finds:
  • Building materials: 16 (10 brick, 2 asphalt, 4 tile)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 3
  • Fishing misc.: 14 (11 lobster trap vinyl coating scraps, 1 trap scrap, 2 bumpers)
  • Food-related plastics: 1 (bottle cap o-ring)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 24 (bottlecap, 23 seaglass!)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 5 (2 scraps >1", 3 scraps <1")
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 0
  • Paper/wood: 3 (napkin scraps)
  • Misc./unique: 0
Almost everything that came up -- and stayed up -- was heavy or dense or friction-y. Tile, brick, sharp snaggy shards of lobster trap vinyl. Light, blowy plastics were limited to 3 tiny flecks of foam that got tangled into the wrack. And look at this, 23 sea glass, that's a record.
Just a wild week that brought up stuff from very unusual places on the seabed.

Here's Zone S:
45 finds:
  • Building materials: 9 (7 brick, 1 asphalt, 1 tile)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 4
  • Fishing misc.: 7 (4 trap vinyl coatings, 1 bumper, 2 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 2 (bottlecap o-rings)
  • Food-related metal/glass: 11 (1 can scrap, 1 pulltab, 2 bottlecaps, 7 seaglass)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 6 (3 scraps <1", tieback, rubberband, carabiner?)
  • Cigarette filters/plastics: 1
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Misc./unique: 5 (leather sole, leather punchout, 2 rag scraps, buried fencing)
The same story here as Zone N. Heavy stuff, weird stuff. Seafloor stuff. Including this bizarre frozen arachnid...
...which turned out to be mangled chainlink fencing.

So a week not notable for how much washed in, but for what it was and where it came from. The sudden onset of winter froze the beach in place. And that seems to have set in motion many weeks of odd behavior -- which I've been able to catalog.

Stay tuned!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

TEMPLATE Curtis Cove



18 pcs of rope, about 20 ft total
86 pcs of non-rope debris
104 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: x
  • Foam/styrofoam: x
  • Fishing rope/net: x
  • Fishing misc.: x
  • Food-related plastics: x
  • Food-related glass/metal: x
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: x
  • Scrap plastics: x
  • Paper/wood: x
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: x
blah blah

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 9228
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1876
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 4340

Saturday, February 4, 2012

It's a Small World After All

Plastic. Bought locally. Acting globally.

Here's Mexico, Denmark, Oman, Serbia, India, and Cyprus.
Here's the USA west coast, England, USA east coast, Norway, Bali, and Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean.
This is Lebanon, the Atlantic island of Cape Verde, Tanzania, Australia, China, and Peru.
This list could cycle through every nation, every province, every state, every city. In the entire world. Everywhere that plastic has reached -- including many deserted lands where it shouldn't have reached -- the world has been changed.

Maybe in some parts of the world we can still ignore it, or pretend it's not a problem, or that it'll just go away.

But who's kidding -- There is no "away."

So what do we do? Simple. We fix it. Or we drown in it.