Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Curtis Cove Report - Nov 2, 2012

Friday, November 2. 8:00AM. 3 days after Superstorm Sandy. The historic storm blessedly left Maine's coastline un-destroyed.
"This is the morning of creation" - John Muir
But not unscathed:
Wrack, ruin, and signs of an angry sea
Sandy's huge waves & winds pummeled the seafloor, ripping up seaweed and blanketing the cove. In places 2-3 feet deep. And of course amid seaweed there's always plastic. So much.

Strikingly, the manmade wreckage at Curtis Cove this week wasn't caused by Sandy. It had been swirling out in the Gulf of Maine long before. Sandy just brought it to the doorstep.

Instead of the usual two bags, this haul doubled that. And then some.
And I know I couldn't find, much less get, it all
In the end, the volume of debris this week was predictably fierce.
215 pcs of rope, about 600 ft total!
163 pcs of nonrope debris
381 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 3 (chair leg, 2 flanges)
  • Foam/styrofoam: 3
  • Fishing rope/net: 215
  • Fishing misc.: 63 (15 trap vents, 3 large trap parts, 3 bumpers, 3 vinyl scraps, 17 trap tags, 14 bait bags, aperture net, fishing line, claw band, 3 shotgun shells, 1 wadding, "Live Lobster" tag)
  • Food-related plastics: 23 (3 very old bottles, 3 bottlecaps, 1 cap seal, 10 cup scraps, 4 food wrappers, fork scrap, straw)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 2 (2 can scraps)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 44 (4 bag scraps, 2 intact bags, 8 balloon strings, 6 latex balloons w plastic string clumped together, 1 huge mylar balloon, cigarette lighter, 3 beachball parts, decorative tassel, floating lizard (???), cord, polyfill chunk, bucket lid scrap, thick plaque/sign scrap, gear case, vinyl-coated wire, 2 Hooksett sewage disks, razor case (?), 2 strapping, cable tie, pen, pen cap, toaster oven label, umbrella base, fitting cap)
  • Scrap plastics: 24 (20 > 1" , 4 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 4 (3 fabric scraps, long leather harness strap?)
215 pieces of rope, 600 feet in length, is shocking enough. But that's just the start of the story. Striking amid this debris is both how large the pieces are, and how light. Usually the debris that comes into Curtis Cove is sinkable plastic, washed in from the sea floor. But Sandy's waves and power brought buoyant plastics in -- in huge numbers. Just look at the number of trap vents: 15! The next highest number for the whole year was 6 vents back on June 7 (scroll down for image). And that was also after a large (unnamed) storm.

Also striking is just how old some of this plastic is, and its varied sources. Of the 17 lobster trap tags that washed in, one was from 1997, another from 1998! 15 years floating & swirling around the sea.

Here is juat a small selection of the more interesting & odd pieces that washed in.
Very banged-up trap vent
Frayed & long-dragged water bottle
"Eastern," a Massachusetts bank
Leather harness??
This next one goes into the top 5 bizarre beach finds:
Notice the fish bite marks
We put our plastic garbage into trash bags, and put them out at the curb, and assume that they've gone "away." But there are so many places between curb and landfill/incinerator for your plastic garbage to escape. This toaster-oven label escaped. And was nibbled by some kind of fish. I wonder if that fish ended up on someone's plate?
Strange plunger-y thing: Thoughts?
Pocket protector, bitten/poked to heck
The lesson from this week is clear and stark: Sandy did not ravage Maine's coast or foul her ocean. We've done that plenty well all by ourselves.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 10486
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 2363
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 4563

1 comment:

  1. Like the ruler! P.S. Suggestion: Mail the "Eastern" ballon to a Eastern bank branch. Tell them about ballon releases, the harm, and where you found this one. And suggest alternatives to ballon releases and ballon give aways.