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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.

Previous entries

March 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

November 2013

October 2013


September 2013

August 2013

July 2013

June 2013

May 2013

April 2013

March 2013

February 2013

January 2013

Monday December 23, 2013 | 09:20 AM

If you have Google Earth, there's a fun little trick you can do.

Drag the globe over to the Pacific Ocean. Now drag down south a bit, a little bit more.

Eventually you wind up with this:

Thursday December 19, 2013 | 08:46 AM

Have you ever visited a Maine beach in winter?

Frozen high-tide

Tuesday December 10, 2013 | 08:26 AM

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.

Sunday December 08, 2013 | 08:54 AM

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.*

Photo linked to source, credit Corey Perrine

Monday December 02, 2013 | 06:56 AM

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: