Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Curtis Cove Report - Jul 23, 2012

Beginning a closer look at the continuing cleanups of Curtis Cove, Biddeford. Here's the first installment!

Saved from development last fall and placed into the hands of the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, Curtis Cove should be a pristine place, free from human intrusion. It isn't. On February 22 I got to a clean "base line" along a small 150-ft section of this polluted cove. As of last week, 5312 new pieces of manmade debris had washed in since then!

Following last week's catch-up post, here is Monday, July 23. Gray skies and heavy air. 8:30AM, low tide. A flat upper terrace of fine gray sand, sloping quickly off to a cobbly & green intertidal zone.
Before my collection, I took a stroll down to the tide pool that rings the north side of the cove. Always something interesting there. Today: a hermit crab war...
The little guy actually won this one
A new, bright-orange life form hanging out amid the rockweed...
A sea squirt, possibly the invasive Botrylloides violaceous 
And of course, this...
Far too many plastic flecks to count overall
Back up at my 150-ft beach zone, some of the week's debris was easy to see...
And some lay nestled amid the wrack:
All told, this is what my hour on the beach landed me yesterday:
68 pcs of rope, about 55 ft total
405 pcs of non-rope debris
473 pieces total:

  • Bldg material/furniture: 1 (grommet)
  • Foam/Styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 71 (68 mostly short, frayed rope strands, 3 small net fragments)
  • Fishing trap gear: 298 (277 lobster trap vinyl scraps, 11 mangled steel trap parts, 5 trap bumpers, 3 bait bags, 1 trap tag, 1 trap vent)
  • Fishing misc.: 25 (clawbands)
  • Food-related plastics: 17 (1 bottlecap o-ring, 1 straw, 10 cup scraps, 3 food wrappers, 2 cutlery handles)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 0
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 19 (4 bag scraps, 1 balloon scrap, 2 cigarettes, 1 bandaid, 1 saw handle, 2 cable ties, 1 crate seal, 4 cord scraps, 1 air filter scrap, 1 duct tape, 1 big tire patch)
  • Scrap plastics: 34 (13 >1", 21 <1")
  • Paper/wood: 2 (paper scraps)
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 6 (5 fabric scraps, 1 glove)

Of the above, perhaps 2 pieces were local drops -- the cigarettes. Everything else most likely washed in. Now as maddening as these bits of vinyl from lobster traps are...
...at least you can see how they get into the ocean. But, a saw handle?
How does that happen? This has been the big wake-up at Curtis Cove -- the amount of things that by no rights should enter the ocean, but have. And will. And will keep washing up as long as they're made out of persistent, permanent plastic.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 5785
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1612
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 2396

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