A few posts ago, I mentioned my job picking up litter on South Beach.
South Beach on Martha’s Vineyard is many miles long. It’s a fine, relatively unspoiled Atlantic shoreline. Unspoiled enough that there are still populations of tiger beetles, a fierce and fast predator species. You can’t walk and expect to catch up with a tiger beetle. Their running speed is for our five miles an hour, and they have wings for when you get too close. The fastest tiger beetles can go almost 6 mph, which, relative to their size, is wicked fast. I just read that if humans could run equally fast, relative to their size, they’d run at 480 mph. If we could do that, we wouldn’t need high speed rail, or even airplanes. Hmmm…I’m in New York and I’ve got an appointment in San Francisco…let me put on my running shoes and I’ll be there in about six hours. 6.04 hours, to be exact, unless there’s a slowdown around Salt Lake City.
Tiger beetle larvae live in the dunes and dune bases. They’re kind of like big ant lions, or doodlebugs, lurking in the soft, free-flowing sand, and ambushing meals as they pass by. Their burrows can be three feet deep. Dune buggies pretty much wiped out Long Island’s tiger beetles. Unfortunately, if there’s too much tromping around in the dunes, or if dune buggies and ATVs travel at the dunes’ feet, it’s bye-bye tiger beetle larvae, and then bye-bye tiger beetles. We’re lucky not to have a lot of people driving on the beaches here, and so are the beetles.
So many people are unwilling to travel on the feet the were born with. All those perfectly good feet, going to waste. It’s a damn shame.
But back to the litter. On a total of a mile and a half of shore I picked up everything I could find, from fish boxes to buoys to clorox jugs to bottle caps and scraps of foam rubber. I’ll bet there wasn’t a single article of jetsam in the whole lot. Maybe not even any flotsam. Just litter. And the litter business is getting to be a tough racket these days. I couldn’t fill three trashcans. But that’s good. It means that not so much is being dumped at sea, and probably means that more than a few people are picking up beach litter and taking it home to dispose of at the transfer station. The “transfer station” is the place we used to call the “landfill”, and before that, the “Dump”. I miss the Dump.
But, really, back to the litter. Some of the stuff was boring, some was interesting. The following series of photos include picks of the litter, and will conclude, I promise, with the solution to the mystery of the title of this post.
Remarkably, there was not a single fishing lure anywhere. Nor did I find a single one of the circular plastic discs that I was picking up by the thousand a year ago last spring. Those “things” were from the treatment lagoons of the Hooksett, NH sewer plant. They had an “excess rain event” late that winter. Four million of their white discs “escaped” and decorated the New England coastline.
I found two radiosonde boxes. They contain a lot of electronics and instrumentation. Meteorologists hang them on large balloons, and send them aloft to radio back what’s happening aloft. After their flights, they fall back to earth, or to sea. Seafalling radiosondes often end up on South Beach. I find two to four of them, almost every year.
I’d love to know where they came from. They were made in Marion, MA.
For more info, go to: http://www.sippican.com/stuff/contentmgr/files/3e8052902595d3629c7b01ca9f4201b0/sheet/mark2.pdf
The can in in between the two radiosonde boxes is interesting. The little bit of english script says “Master li”. I don’t know what Master li did to deserve the noncapitalization of his name. Let’s call the answer “inscrutable”. Speaking of inscrutable, what the heck is “blue peacock chemical”?
Most of the copy on the can was symbol to read.
It was all Greek to me.
There was one more line of “English”.
Put them together and you get….
Metal gushes the zinc agent.