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


  1. Harry, Is replacing the vinyl-coated metal lobster traps with wooden ones a viable option? Are there any other options you're aware of? My guess is that stainless steel would be way too expensive.
    When I last visited Newfoundland, back in 2006, I recall seeing many wooden traps still in use up there.

    1. Hey Al! Good to hear from you. Replacing the traps here is needed, but will definitely be an uphill climb. IMHO it'll require legislation, and an acceptance that the price of catching (and therefore buying/eating) lobster is going to go up. If a handful of lobstermen tried to do it by themselves without any wider industry or govt backing, they'd probably quickly get priced out of the market and the whole thing would fall apart.

      I've heard that some Canadian provinces are still big on their wooden traps. I need to learn more to see if that's just non-commercial boats, or if it's law, or if it's just the culture. Nice at least that it still exists!