Welcome to Curtis Cove, Biddeford, Maine:
This private, untouristed, unknown cove was a dump -- a huge collection spot for ocean-borne garbage. I took some pictures, and left heavy-hearted.
Fast-forward to Fall 2011, when I came across amazing news. The family that owned the whole 97-acre peninsula was selling. To a group of conservation organizations. One of the last undeveloped coastal gems in southern Maine was going to be preserved forever! And I just might have a chance to get back onto Curtis Cove to have a real look.
In the end, the peninsula, "Timber Point," came into the hands of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge. I met with the refuge management, discussed my flotsam work with them, and suggested that Curtis Cove would be an ideal spot to see -- really see -- what's out there in the Gulf of Maine. And happily they agreed! Within weeks my permits had been signed & granted.
On January 1, 2012, I visited Curtis Cove for the first time as a licensed Flotsam Diarist. I scouted the land and decided on a plan of attack for studying the beach. With the heavy influx of flotsam, I decided to focus on a 150-foot wedge of shoreline along the northern part of the cove. And I got to work. Thanks to a ridiculously mild winter, I was able to spend January and half of February cleaning off the age-old debris, finally getting to a clean "baseline" on February 22.
Since then, I've been returning weekly to scour the same 150-foot stretch of beach and see what's come in.
The results have been gobsmacking.
But far beyond just rope is the assortment of other debris, almost all plastic. A few examples. February 29:
Curtis Cove has always been a natural collection point of ocean debris. Seaweed still washes in two feet thick if the weather's right. As it decays (the nose won't miss this), it pours an amazing amount of nutrients back into the soil and the water. This rich environment supports wonderful tide pools, choc-a-bloc with life and diversity.
|A nudibranch -- a shell-less snail|
|A gunnel, or "rock eel"|
And when you see a gorgeous tide pool littered with modern junk:
It's not really possible to overstate how badly the Gulf of Maine is being abused by persistent plastic garbage. But now that I have Curtis Cove to visit week after week, it is possible to shine a bright & searing light on it.