Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Curtis Cove Report - Mar 31, 2013

Sunday, March 31. 9:35AM. An hour after low tide. Bright, sunny, upper 30s on a day quickly headed toward the 50s. The air was rich with the cries of gulls, jays, ducks, geese. Scuds & snails & tubeworms were back in the tidepools. Spring was on its way, if not yet here!
The sand this day was striking. The rivulets draining back down the beach left dark stains in their tiny valleys.
Other larger outwash streams wound their usual beautiful plaits & threads behind as well.
Of course, the ugly was on display too. And the poignant.
"Pitch In" indeed
But the story of the day was, again, the lobster trap vinyl:
At least half a dozen pieces just in this tiny section
Another week of fine, pulverized wrack at the back of the foreshore meant one thing. A big day. But "big" doesn't begin to describe it.
122 pcs of rope, about 125 ft total
1113 pcs of nonrope debris
1287 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 2 (painted moldings)
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 122
  • Fishing misc.: 1051 (958 lobster trap vinyl scraps (!!), 16 trap bumpers, 7 bait bags, 4 vents, opening ring, 63 claw bands, 2 bait tins)
  • Food-related plastics: 17 (bottle, 14 cup scraps, bread tag, fork/spoon handle)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 7 (3 aluminum can tops, can scrap, 2 sea glass, bottle cap)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 24 (latex balloon, balloon string, cigarette, glove, shovel handle, large strapping, 9 cable ties, plunger stake (?), 3 upholstery scraps, plant ID stake, goggle strap, 2 crate seals, rope-and-eyelet)
  • Scrap plastics: 52 ( 18 > 1" , 34 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 12 (2 socks, 2 fabric pieces, 6 gloves, pottery shard, leather strap)
No words. Not like words would matter. Here's a picture of what 958 little flecks of lobster trap look like.
All of these trap vinyl bits put back together wouldn't even create one lobster trap. At least 38,000 are lost by Maine lobstermen alone, each year. Another side-effect of the lobster industry are the huge numbers of claw bands that go overboard:
Many have bite marks on them. They don't go away, not for years & years at least. And of course there's the larger lobstering debris -- the trap vent doors that release if the trap is lost. Storms bring them into Curtis Cove regularly:
Wouldn't want to hit one of those with a propeller.

What is the biggest source of persistent plastic debris that I find on the beach at Curtis Cove? No points for answering.

Running YTD counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 2258
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 512
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 1363

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Curtis Cove Report - Mar 22, 2013

Friday, March 22. 12:50PM. 1/2 hr before low tide. Sunny, 37 degrees, light breeze off the ocean, calm water.

It had been a couple weeks since 3/9's visit. The low foreshore was still, well, very low and flat. Few cobbles & pebbles visible down by the water. Which suggests that there was still sand & stuff dragged/pulled from the backshore burying the underlying stones by the water's edge.

It had been a quiet week, light snows but no storms. A slow remolding was going on at the backshore. Waves pushed & stacked the wrack up into high cliff faces.
Look at all the bits of fishing rope dangling out from the side of the seaweed mountain! And there was a lot of pulverized wrack and coralline algae at the front of the "cliff" too.
I've learned that delicate, pulverized bits like this mean loads of lobster trap vinyl. And sure enough:
Overall an exceptionally busy & grueling day.
220 pcs of rope, about 200 ft total
531 pcs of nonrope debris
751 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 220
  • Fishing misc.: 455 (405 vinyl trap scraps, 13 bait bags, 3 trap vents, 10 bumpers, trap tag, 18 claw bands, 2 bait tins, glove, 2 trap parts)
  • Food-related plastics: 17 (12 cup scraps, bottlecap seal, wine cork seal, 2 food wrappers, straw)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 6 (5 ripped aluminum can scraps, sea glass)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 11 (bag scrap, latex balloon scrap, plastic balloon string, CLOROX bottlecap, glove, plant ID stake, disposable plant-pot base, fabric, 2 cable ties, string)
  • Scrap plastics: 37 ( 15 > 1" , 22 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 5 (fabric gloves/glove scraps)
The vinyl lobster trap bits are the standout, of course. But it was also a day heavy in scraps of red SOLO cups & the like:
And as an amusing side note, a lesson in how hard it is to quantify trash. Both of the pieces below count as -1- piece of lobster trap vinyl debris:
Yet the big chunk on the left (all just vinyl, the steel long-since rusted away from the inside!) would eventually break into hundreds of little flecks like that on the right.

So much trash.

Running YTD-2 counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 971
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 390
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 405

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Curtis Cove Report - Mar 9, 2013

Saturday, March 9. 2:40PM. Half-hour before low-tide. A day of bright sunshine, and watching huge waves out in the distance crashing into the headland outcrops. The massive nor'easter that blew through New Engand on March 6 was still roiling the ocean. It had left its mark around the cove.
The same storm pulled at least two houses into the ocean at Plum Island, MA and ravaged the shoreline of Nantucket. Southern Maine was comparatively lucky. At Curtis Cove, the high foreshore sand was largely eaten & gouged away. The waves & winds left a very steep profile of tumbled cobbles at the back of the cove. In front of it now lay a nearly flat plain all the way down to the water, strewn with wrack.
The waterlogged high ground was trying hard to squeeze itself dry. Streams of outwash flowed perpendicularly at the base of the backshore stones. They found a weak spot in the sand lip, and burst through, making a temporary river running down the mounds of wrack out into the sea.
Mother Nature sets things right if given a chance.

As expected a big day at the beach.
170 pcs of rope, about 330 ft total
58 pcs of nonrope debris
228 finds:
  • Bldg material/furniture: 0
  • Foam/styrofoam: 0
  • Fishing rope/net: 170
  • Fishing misc.: 20 (13 bait bags, bumper, 2 vents, Canada tag, cleat, claw band, fishing glove)
  • Food-related plastics: 10 (2 bottles, ragged bottlecap seal, cup, 6 cup scraps)
  • Food-related glass/metal: 1 (fresh/locally dropped can)
  • Nonfood/unknown plastics: 14 (11 latex balloons, 2 cable ties, plant tag)
  • Scrap plastics: 12 ( 8 > 1" , 4 < 1" )
  • Paper/wood: 0
  • Non-plastic misc./unique: 1 (beach chair seat fabric)
As expected, the huge power of this storm blew in larger items, and sucked out much of the smaller stuff. Notable was this big clump of 10 latex balloons, all goo'ed togeter and tied round with strings and cords. The remnants of someone's party months or years ago.
As usual, scraps of coffee & drink cups washed in with bite & poke marks all over them.
No trip to the cove would be complete without the tag from a plant pot. I've picked dozens of these from the cove by now/
This ravaged bottle shows how modern bottling works. Bottles are created in layers. The middle layer may contain a token amount of recycled plastic. But the recycled material generally has to be sandwiched inside virgin PET plastic, because recycled PET often isn't as strong as fresh stuff. Another reason the recycling triangle is a lie.
And last but not least, a far traveled lobster trap tag from Canadian waters.
The stuff keeps coming.

This collection marks the first of my official Year 2 at the cove! Will be interesting to see how this year's finds stack up against 2012-13.

Running YTD 2 counts:
  • Total pcs of litter -- 228
  • Pcs fishing rope -- 170
  • Vinyl lobster-trap scraps -- 0