Thursday, March 31, 2011

wrack item of the decade

I took a walk at Sandy Point the other day in the hope of seeing some of the invisi-birds. The wind kept bird action of all kinds to a minimum, but it was a great walk in the brilliant (but cold) sunlight.  As soon as I stepped onto the beach, I spottted one of the millions of plastic discs that washed into the Merrimack River from the Hooksett sewage treatment plant on March 6. Despite several beach cleanups since then, they're still around all over the place. I found many more as I walked along the beach. Y'know how I list the weird wrack item of the week after every plover warden shift? Well, I think the discs are probably the wrack item of the decade.

Hooksett Disc at Sandy Point
Not everything in the wrack was weird or plastic. There are often gull and crow feathers.

Crow Feather in the Wrack
I did a double take when I spotted this plant-like wrack item.  All kinds of plant material washes up, but I think this is the first artificial plant I've ever found on the beach. Look closely. The edges of  the "leaves" are frayed.

Not a Real Plant
The discs are about the size of a half dollar coin. And there are loads of them.
Another Disc from Hooksett on the Beach
They're still showing up on beaches further and further south in Massachusetts. They've made it to Cape Cod. Once they get into the Gulf Stream, they'll probably end up in England this summer.
Hooksett Disc with my Footprint for Scale

Another One -- In the Dunes
Somehow, the discs make things like lobster traps and truck tires seem like normal wrack items.
Lobster Traps and a Tire

Coincidentally, the new book Moby-Duck, about tracing a load of bath toys lost at sea, by Donovan Hohn has been all over NPR lately. I heard him on three different NPR shows in one day, including the locally produced Here and Now.   It was a little weird that Here and Now didn't make any connection with the Hooksett discs.  Not that weird, I guess. Sewage treatment discs are not nearly as cute as rubber duckies. I don't think anybody is going to get a bestseller out of tracing a bunch of plastic discs down the Merrimack River and onto the beaches of Europe.

Here's a shot of some kelp, which belongs in the wrack, to cleanse your visual palate.
Cleansing Shot of Kelp

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