Thursday, December 12, 2013
Visiting a Maine beach in March 2010, Harold Johnson was shocked by the ocean-borne debris left by recent storms. He grabbed a garbage bag and a camera, and hasn’t looked back.
Since then he has spent most of his free time studying marine pollution, coastal ecosystems, and the mysteries and science of ocean and shore.
Copyeditor and writer by trade, historian and archaeologist at heart, Johnson’s philosophy is simple: Dig below the surface, travel the currents, make the connections, learn. Then share what you learn. He lives in Saco with his wife and young daughter. Follow on Twitter @FlotsamDiaries.
In March 2011, there was an accident at the wastewater treatment plant in Hooksett, NH. 4 million little plastic discs escaped and careened down the Merrimack River, toward the Gulf of Maine.
These round, 2” discs had been floating in the treatment tanks to give more surface area for sewage-eating bacteria to multiply. They were meant to boost efficiency at the plant.
Unfortunately, heavy rainfall and human error led to their release. Down the Merrimack they went. Within just a couple days large clumps of these discs were washing up on beaches in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
Over the past week many watched a bit of seaborne drama unfold down in Florida’s Gulf Coast. On Tuesday 51 pilot whales, who usually live, feed, and thrive in deep waters, were found far up the network of rivers coming from the Everglades.
First there were doubts any would survive, then hopeful optimism as crews managed to coax 35 survivors back out to sea. That turned back to fear as many pods turned back to the coast on Friday. But the news Sunday morning is that the pods have disappeared and have hopefully entered the deep water they need to sustain them.*
The US Census Website has a bunch of fascinating figures for just what Maine exports. Electronics, aircraft parts, wood & pulp, lab reagents, potatoes, oil & gas (surprising), sea urchins, and of course lobster.
That last one, lobster, gives in more ways than one.
Lobstering gear from Maine washes up, consistently, an ocean away.
In County Kerry, Ireland:
We’ve all seen those charts telling us grimly how long various things take to rot away in the environment:
The Web is filled with these charts:
Today marks the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address.
On hallowed ground, which had seen 51,000 American casualties (making it the bloodiest battle on American soil, still to this day), President Lincoln spoke words of healing and resolve.
He spoke of “a new birth of freedom,” and its call has resonated through the ages. The America that we wanted to be was born with those words.