Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Four minutes on a beach in Massachusetts

Just before heading to Hawaii, we (me, James, Hickory and Smudge) agreed that we all needed a dose of salt air and to revisit some of the beaches that we walked (and cleaned) at about the same time last year. So, we packed up the PB & J, doggie treats and sunglasses and headed east for the coast. Here is what we found...

Owl's Head Light, Rockland, ME: This is a beautiful park with perfect New England lighthouse and several beaches with different exposures. After climbing the lighthouse steps (and
doing a little photo shoot with the boys), we decided to check out the beach that faced northeast. My first comment was that I did not see much trash and we started to speculate that maybe there had not been much northeasterly breeze lately. And then we started walking. This beach hid its trash very well. While there was not heaps, in the course of a walk along it's short length and back, we found the following assortment of the usual (see photo right) plus a one, left, pink, cougar-spotted Croc.

Our next stop in Cape Ann and the same little rocky beach north of the
town of Rockport, MA that we visited last year. Here, we
found a similar assortment of debris as last year with a
touch less in the way of bait bags/rubber bands and more rope. The items shown in the photo far right were collected in 4 minutes of walking the beach. Yikes. We also noticed something else... broken up pieces of plastic somewhat evenly distributed within the sandy seaweed line right at the water's edge (as opposed to the bigger pieces of trash up on the rocky, sloping part of the beach). It is not hard to see that the wave action on the rocks along with photodegradation is responsible for this but after the Marine Debris Conference (see last 2 posts), I have a much more specific and vivid idea of how those little pieces of plastic
can make their way into sea bird and fish bellies. At the conference, it was easy to assign microplastics as a feature of the gyres, after the plastic bottles, forks, bags, buoys, etc. have traveled many miles on ocean currents. And while the center of the gyres may have shocking concentrations of microplastic, our own local shores are not immune.

It is all good inspiration as we push forward with plans for the Trash Tour. I am adding each stop to the Rozalia Project Facebook page starting with two exciting events. Kicking off the early season is an Easter marine debris dockside program at the Fort Walton Yacht Club on the Gulf of Mexico in Florida. Next, we're recognizing that marine debris is a universal problem and heading to the Wayzata Community Sailing Center to see what we can find on the bottom of Lake Minnetonka. I can't wait to get out there with the ROV and sonars again!

Stay tuned. News should be coming in thick and fast now that the snow is melting.



  1. Nice to see someone else sporting NOAA's handy blue "Marine Debris" ruler! Carried me through almost all my summer collections. I should probably get it back out again.

    Re the micro-plastics, I find them too mixed in with the seaweed/wrack lines. The two are heavily correlated, at least in Bay View. Lots of seaweed tossed up, lots of small plastics; little seaweed, little seaborne plastic. Don't know if the one drives the other, but they always seem to be together.

  2. Tripped over this site from a facebook posting. Wow, cool. Nice Newfies. I see plenty of crappola from the kayak on the local river and lakes (southcentral PA). Educate, educate, educate...

  3. Thanks Harry. Next time we are up that way (whether by car or boat), we will make sure to get in touch. I would love to compare (trash) notes!

    Hickory and Smudge say thank you as well swordwhale. I grew up on inland lakes... they need to be clean too. Enjoy the start of kayak season.