Sunday, November 10, 2013

Collection Report - November 8, 2013

A fresh collection report -- first in a long time!

Friday, November 8. 8:30AM. Just after low tide, a fairly weak one. Chill in the air, upper 30s, but warm sun and little breeze made the morning pleasant.
Two weeks since I had been here last. And the beach was looking very different. More of a steady, significant slope from the back of the foreshore all the way down to the water's edge. Sand likely slushed and washed up from down low by energy in late October & the first days of November.

Down on the low foreshore, summer's algae was by now almost all dead/dying. All passing away with the warmth & sun of summer. Green turning back to brown & gray.
From top to bottom, the beach on Friday left no flat spots, no taper points. Just a clean unobstructed angle. Meaning likely fewer places for water & flotsam to settle out quietly. Would that mean a light collection day? This lobster-trap bait bag, blown high onto the backshore, suggested that winds may have blown in more than guessed.
Elsewhere on the beach the view was more amazing. I spotted a seam of really cool features along back of foreshore:
"Sand volcanoes" -- air pushed up from inside the sand by the overnight incoming tide, but unable to escape easily thanks to a tiny film of frost on the surface. Amazing world we live in.

So, what were the finds?
7 pcs of rope, about 15 ft total
120 pcs of nonrope debris
127 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 7
  • Fishing misc.: 96 (85 vinyl scraps, 2 trap parts, ring, bumper, bait bag, 6 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 1 (cup bottom scrap)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 0
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 2 (upholstery seam, huge bandaid)
  • Scrap plastics: 21 ( 7 > 1" , 14 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 0
It was, by recent standards, a quiet week (blown-in bait bag aside).

Given the slope of the beach and mediocre energy (not storm-strong, not summer-gentle), not surprising to have a lighter-than-normal take. Actually fairly surprising still to be finding as much of the little vinyl bits as I did. Even though it was smeared in a very wide band from back of foreshore down well into the low rocks & cobbles.

The sea keeps giving, week after week.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 10617
  • Total from fishing -- 9309 (87.7%)
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1928
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 6647

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Collection Report - October 23, 2013

Wednesday, October 23. 8:30. Cold, about 40 degrees but still no freeze. Low, bright sun. The road was blocked with roadwork, so I walked in from first horseshoe coves just north of Curtis Cove. Being low tide, it was interesting to see the huge rip-rap wall here up close. 15 feet high, full of tumbled granite debris trying to hold back the sea & protect the causeway.
The ocean comes all the way up to this wall even on the weakest of high-tide here now. Left natural, the causeway & the one or two homes behind it would have been gone long long ago. Timber Point would be an island. The cost of maintaining the status quo will only increase as seas keep rising.

On to the main beach. Rounding the rocks I was greeted by three lovely sights: a long-beached piece of driftwood illuminated by the low sun:
More deer tracks high on the backshore:
And beautiful fall colors ringing the back of the cove:
Curtis Cove is a special place.

Down on the beach proper, by now the low foreshore was almost dead -- algae almost all gone with the passing of summer. But a huge amount of ripped-up kelp was strewn now across the back of the foreshore, mixing and churning with the old mounds of pebbles.
This is another sign of autumn energy. Even though weather has been kind this past week, the ocean is starting to grow more restless.

Curiously, this mass of large kelp was largely devoid of plastics. As usual, the heaviest spread of debris was at a smear of pulverized seaweed that lay in front of this mass. In this case most everything I found lay in about a 20x30 area of the whole beach (plus some very old small bits of rope uncovered at the backshore by shifting sands).

Here's what turned up:
19 pcs of rope, about 10 ft total
203 pcs of nonrope debris
222 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 19
  • Fishing misc.: 171 (163 vinyl lobster trap scraps, trap part, 7 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 8 (5 cup scraps including full styrofoam cup, 2 food tub scraps, very abraded silverware handle)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 0
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 6 (very abraded non-food bottlecap, cigarette, plant stake, 2 cords, cable tie)
  • Scrap plastics: 17 ( 7 > 1" , 10 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 1 (seaglass)
Lobster vinyl debris yet again wins the day.
With it same various old & very abraded bits & bobs, which had obviously spent some years out in the ocean.

If we stop dumping plastics in the ocean tomorrow, our grandchildren will still be finding ours washing up. But maybe -- maybe -- their grandchildren would have clean shores again.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 10490
  • Total from fishing -- 9206 (87.8%)
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1921
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 6562

Collection Report - October 16, 2013

Wednesday, October 16. 1:30PM. A cpl hrs before low tide. Gray & overcast. No rain. 60 degrees. Slight breeze coming from the north. The back of the backshore was ringed by a mix of summery greens and autumnal oranges/reds. No freeze yet on the coast. Blackening wrack from last week's wash-ins lined the backshore of the beach.
Amid the blackening seaweed was the rotting "cliffs" of white sand at the back of the foreshore, also cut back by the previous weeks. Now aging and showing no new pulverizing.
Yet amid the cobbles on low foreshore, summer's algae blooms were dying back quickly on their exposed rocks. Strong (if low) waves had clearly been carving at them this week, ripping them from all except the largest of cobbles and boulders.

And this day brought me a new find at Curtis Cove:
My first ever sea urchin shell ("test") from Curtis Cove. A nice find.

So, low waves but high energy. What washed in?
25 pcs of rope, about 25 ft total
182 pcs of nonrope debris
207 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 25
  • Fishing misc.: 154 (127 lobster trap vinyl scraps, 15 trap parts, trap tag, bait bag, bumper, 5 claw bands, 3 balls of fishing line, o-ring from buoy)
  • Food-related plastics: 4 (cup scraps)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 1 (beer bottle, local drop)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 4 (small scrap of window screen, 2 cords, old abraded button)
  • Scrap plastics: 16 ( 6 > 1" , 10 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 3 (seaglass)
I found a surprising number of heavy metal lobster trap parts, as well as freshly washed-in rope. I also found lower-than-"normal" counts for trap vinyl coatings. That all points to an ocean changing with the seasons.

On to next week.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 10268
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1902
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 6399

Monday, November 4, 2013

Collection Report - October 8, 2013

Tuesday, October 8. 8:00AM. Just after low tide. Bright tide, low-50s.
This was the day after big, sustained windstorm that ran most of the day on Monday. Evidence for the energy was widespread at the beach. The tides easily overtopped the old summer berms at the back of the foreshore, leaving clumps of large wrack behind.
The pounding surf cut & scoured out a big cliff into the soft sand & cobbles at the back of the foreshore.
The weather left very interesting patterns of sand and rain on the beach. It was obvious where the highest of high tides from mid-da Monday splashed all the way up to the back of the cobbles. These were pelted by rain drops as that tide receded Monday afternoon. But then after midnight Tuesday, when the next high tide came in, the rain had stopped. The winds were lower & the tide didn't reach as far. As it receded there were no more raindrops.
Quite striking to see multiple times & tides etched into the sand, and to be able to read it like a book.

All of Monday's activity, plus the coming cold, seems to have stirred up life at the beach. Down on the low foreshore, crab and snail tracks interspersed with gull footprints:
Higher & dryer on the backshore, another denizen of the dunes:
So with all the changes happening on the beach, and all the energy, what would that mean for the finds?
15 pcs of rope, about 20 ft total
198 pcs of nonrope debris
213 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 15
  • Fishing misc.: 163 (149 vinyl lobster trap coating scraps, vent, 2 bait bags, 4 trap parts, 7 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 9 (4 small cup scraps, 2 food wrappers, locally-dropped yogurt tubs, six-pack ring, straw)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 3 (fresh aluminum beer cans, shotgunned)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 9 (3 baggies, latex balloon, long red string, 2 cigarette packaging, umbrella base, fabric swatch)
  • Scrap plastics: 8 ( 4 > 1" , 4 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 3 (2 sea glass, chunk of aluminum)
A strange day. For one thing, local stuff. Including three spiked-and-shotgunned beer cans:
As expected, big stuff did ride the high waves in. Trap vent, bait bags, chunks of rope. But I was surprised how much lobster trap vinyl there still was amid the masses.

Big day: broke the 10,000-piece mark for my Year 2 at Curtis Cove! And the year's just half over.

Anyway, time moves on and the sea is always changing.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 10061
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1877
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 6272

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Collection Report - September 29, 2013

Sunday, September 29. 1:40PM, right at very weak low tide. 60 degrees. Bright, bright sun. Cool seabreeze coming in. Low energy week, unchanged largely since last week.
The foreshore still awash with jumbled and poorly sorted cobbles, pebbles, and wrack. On this early fall day the backshore still looked an awful lot like summer!
A truly beautiful day to have a beach all to myself.

Things I noticed this week: The slope down to the waterline felt longer, more gradual, more consistent & noticeable. There were fewer flat berms and falloffs. There was little sorting or piling of new cusps & mounds. And little new wrack come in. But at very back of last high-tide line (20-30 feet up from what had been the end of the live-algae zone), I found an area of smushed & sand-tossed loose wrack. Lots of vinyl & plastic churned up through this loose wrack.
It's rare at Curtis Cove to see that kind of mixing. Usually the vinyl sits on top, but this stuff got churned into the back of the foreshore, yet not dragged away. As though a couple last high waves made an energetic slush, that then quickly died back away.

So what did I find?
528 pcs of nonrope debris
528 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 0
  • Fishing misc.: 481 (456 vinyl lobster trap coating bits, 9 trap parts, 2 bumpers, big ball of fishing line, 13 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 11 (bottom of drink bottle, 4 bottlecap o-rings, 5 cup scraps, container)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 1 (tiny aluminum can scrap)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 9 ("silk" flower, 6 cable ties, o-ring, anchor)
  • Scrap plastics: 25 (4 > 1" , 21 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 1 (sea glass)
Another zero-rope week! That's become a very good indicator of a very low-energy week at the cove. As is the return of large masses of lobster trap vinyl:
Beyond the vinyl, I did find one other interesting thing:
This bleached, faded, & abraded cup surely has a tale to tell. Who lost it? Where? When? Why? How? So many questions -- all of them essential if we're ever going to reclaim clean oceans & give our descendants reason not to despise us. Yet none of them answerable.

The tides go on.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 9848
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1862
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 6123

Collection Report - September 23, 2013

Monday, September 23. 8:30AM. Right at low-tide. Bright sun. 55 degrees. Colors of the bushes along the backshore starting to change as fall begins to take hold. Still pink, purple, red, & white blooms on the beach roses.

This day I saw some erosion at back of foreshore. Heavier bits of seaweed had been tossed up & clumped there. And a small cliff had formed from waves pounding into back of foreshore and dragging back some of the softer sand.
The low-foreshore rocks had a pretty unsorted/jumbled look to them. August's cusps & mounds had been smeared and flattened out. There was lots of larger tossed-up wrack. And amidst that I found new pieces of rope, the first bits of newly washed-in rope that I'd seen in some months. That only seems to happen here when there's been true energy coming in. That same energy seems to have been what's scoured the sand back. Things changing as summer turns to autumn.

And as summer forage turned to autumn fruits, out have come the deer!
I tracked out four sets of deer prints on the beach! Pressed deeply & freshly into the soft sand at the backshore. Two large prints, two small prints. Sometime just overnight judging by how fresh the tracks were. I love this beach.

Someone else loves this beach. I found the carapace of a cooked lobster amid a rock ring. Looking at its shell, I see why it was cooked.
This lobster has the dreaded "shell disease" -- a parasite that damages lobster shells but leaves the meat untainted. It's still fit to eat, but nobody would want to buy a lobster that looked like that. The lobsterman who caught this possibly cooked it up for his family.

Shell disease decimated southern New England's lobster fishery starting in 1999. It's creeping northward. If it hits the Gulf of Maine with full force, the lobster industry is in real trouble.

Well, the higher energy this week would usually mean less debris left behind than in recent weeks. Did it?
50 pcs of rope, about 50 ft total
326 pcs of nonrope debris
376 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 50
  • Fishing misc.: 253 (237 vinyl lobster trap coating scraps, 4 trap parts, bait bag, bumper, 10 clawbands)
  • Food-related plastics: 23 (2 bottlecap seals, 18 cup scraps, 2 bread tags, straw)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 2 (aluminum can scraps)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 14 (cigarette, bandaid, 6 cable ties, 2 cords, 4 anchors)
  • Scrap plastics: 34 ( 11 > 1" , 23 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 0
Disturbingly, 243 pieces of lobster trap was indeed far less than what I'd been averaging for the previous month. 326 pieces of garbage coming off an untouristed beach. And that's a "good day."

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 9320
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1862
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 5667

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Collection Report - September 15, 2013

Saturday September 15. 1:15PM, near low tide. Mid-60s, nice seabreeze. Mostly sunny. Fall-like crisp air.
Beach looking still a lot like September 7. If maybe a bit more "unkempt." The live algae down low on the foreshore was still there -- though getting more muddled & ripped up. The low foreshore a jumble of cobbles & pebbles & boulders.

Higher against back of foreshore August's clusters & clumps of pebble-sized rocks were still there. But matted down. "Aging." Smushing themselves back down, unrestored by the late summer's weak waves.

Sadly those weak waves brought their payload of vinyl lobster trap bits again.
This time instead of up against the back of the foreshore, the bulk was strewn amid the standing water and boulders of the live-algae zone. A one-day slightly higher tide seems to have had enough energy to first spill over the foreshore berm, and then partially drag some of the vinyl load back down.

But again, there was no energy for bringing in large & heavy things like rope. It was another zero-rope day. And another sobering day.

1151 pcs of nonrope debris
1151 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 0
  • Fishing misc.: 1043 (979 vinyl lobster trap coating scraps, 5 bumpers, 5 trap parts, 54 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 30 (bottlecap, 3 bottlecap o-rings, 24 cup scraps, cutlery scrap, straw scrap)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 2 (aluminum can scraps)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 11 (balloon, PhoneMate clip, Nifty Magnetic SpaceSaver Binder scrap, cord, cable tie, 2 plant stakes, anchor, 3 ring seals)
  • Scrap plastics: 64 ( 16 > 1" , 48 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 1 (tile scrap)
A couple of the wash-ins were kind of cool. An ancient phone clip from an old PhoneMate answering machine system:
And a very worn & aged scrap from a "Nifty Magnetic SpaceSaver Binder":
Neither of these makes sense as ocean debris. Yet both were in the ocean. Probably from either an accidental trash-bag rip near a gutter, or debris from a violent coastal storm years ago.

But of course, the story this week, as many weeks running, is the lobster trap debris:
979 pieces of vinyl. A record.

That's barely enough to recreate one lost lobster trap. In the hour & a half that I was picking these pieces up at least 6 more lobster traps were lost in the waters of the Gulf of Maine.

That's not sustainable.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 8991
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1812
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 5424

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Collection Report - September 7, 2013

Saturday, September 7. 5:45PM. An hr before low tide. 70 degrees or so. A little rain over the previous week, but still nothing in the way of storms. Very much still a summer, calm weather pattern. And a shore that looked largely the same:
And a little bit different. For one thing, this day the beach reeked. The wraack on the low foreshore was starting to rip from its cobbles, die and rot. The runoff coming back down into the ocean had turned into a cloudy goo in places.
The mounds of cobbles & pebbles on the back of the low foreshore from August were still here. Along with some newly washed in bits & bobs. The back of the low foreshore up to the end of the algae was very flat. Then there was a noticeable lip as beach angled upward. Going up, the accumulation fell away quickly.

Thanks to the gentle summer waves, lots of vinyl ended again up at the southern end of my zone. Crazy lots:
Higher up on the bone-dry backshore,  offshore breezes blew the soft sand back off of the last bits of uncollected winter rope. That gave me a rope count for this week, even though no new rope came in. All told, another very busy day.
32 pcs of rope, about 20 ft total
744 pcs of nonrope debris
776 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 3
  • Fishing rope/net: 32
  • Fishing misc.: 662 (617 vinyl lobster trap coating scraps, 3 bumpers, 5 parts, bait bag, entrance ring, fishing line, 34 claw bands)
  • Food-related plastics: 25 (2 bottle scraps, 2 bottlecap o-rings, 17 cup scraps, 2 bread tags, fork, plate scrap)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 0
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 15 (2 bag scraps, cigarette, floss, bandaid, toy house roof pc, packaging, 2 cable ties, crate seal, 2 tubings, anchor, end cap, contact lens solution label scrap)
  • Scrap plastics: 36 ( 14 > 1" , 22 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 3 (fabric piece, 2 sea glass)
It was a varied week. Lots of odd things across the spectrum. But really, there's still one story here:
Fix it, or drown in it. There are no other choices.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 7840
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 1812
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 4435