Sunday, November 3, 2013

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


  1. Do you know the underlying cause of shell disease, HB?

    1. Hey Michelle! How are you?? It's a topic of pretty big debate. It's correlated both with increased ocean temperatures and increased chemical pollutants. Those who want to downplay warming oceans point toward chemicals; those who want to downplay pollution point to warming oceans. The truth is probably a combination of both. As of now, as many as 20-30% of the lobsters caught off Long Island and southern New England are diseased and unmarketable. That's enough to totally tank the market down there & make fishing unprofitable. Here in Maine the number is still low, a percent or two. But that's 10 times higher than it was just a few years ago, and the occurrence is climbing fast.

  2. What is he oddest thing you have found? I live on eastern shore of Middle Bay and have gotten 2 of the big white bait barrels over the years. Maybe oddest here was a new tire on the rim (probably a spare) on south beach of Jewell Island. Oddest in life was a ship's emergency floating beacon about 12 ft long at uninhabited Sand Cay, eastern end of Turks & Caicos.

    1. Hi Tom, thanks for the note! I've had a couple good head-scratchers. A plasticized menu from a now-defunct Bar Harbor restaurant... part of a car's center console... one-half of an inflatable seagoing boat (yikes!!)... 2/3 of a recycling tub from a Nova Scotia processing plant... and a Duplo "Mega Blox" person in perfect condition but without one bit of paint on it -- almost like it was a mold or a pre-form. Sounds like you've had some memorable ones too!