Keepin' the Sea Free of Debris!
March 17, 2014 5:19 PM   Subscribe

Interested in items that have washed ashore years after a tsunami? Crab trap rodeos? Art from floating trash? The NOAA Marine Debris Program has a blog for you.

If you're curious about what happens to shipping containers once they go overboard, have a look at this post:
An interesting question: What happens to the containers that sink? We’re reminded that scientists at NOAA’s Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary spent a week last December finding out when they sent an underwater robot 4,000 feet down to check out a container that sank in 2004. They made some interesting discoveries! Check out their photos and mission logs.
Note: Be sure to expand each day's log for more information and photos. I thought the photo of a galtheid crab on top of a corn bale at 10,500 feet below was interesting, although Day 5's juvenile vampire squid may give me nightmares.

Previously: Tsunami Debris Field. See also the NOAA Marine Debris Program's tsunami debris update, from November 2013. (Via Discard Studies.)
posted by MonkeyToes (11 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
I love this stuff. One of my favorite things is a rubber duck I found on the rocks at a beach in Kennebunk, Maine. It's really old -- probably from the 40s. You can tell from the features (it resembles a very early Donald Duck, complete with bowtie-like embellishment), evidence of the bright colors it was once painted, and from the hard plastic from which it's made. If you shake it you can hear tiny shells inside of it, no doubt from the time it spent roiling in the breakers and finally making its way from sea to shore.

I like to imagine how it got there, and how long it had been in the water. I'm convinced that a delighted child tossed the rubber duck into the sea and waited for it to come riding back on a wave, then possibly grew despondent as the duck did not return, but in fact disappeared into the distance on swell after swell. And of course the parents had to take the kid for ice cream afterwards because otherwise no one was going to survive the ride home, and the duck was forgotten until I found it wedged between two boulders while tidepooling in the late 90s.

I'm satisfied with this explanation, but I wish I knew where the duck was first tossed into the ocean. Just up the coast? Nova Scotia? Ireland??? There's no blog entry on my duck, sadly.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:03 PM on March 17, 2014 [8 favorites]

For an interesting read on this, try Flotsametrics and the Floating World. The author is a good story teller, and has great stories about things washed out to sea, and ocean gyres.
posted by benito.strauss at 6:28 PM on March 17, 2014 [2 favorites]

mudpuppie, if it's one of the Friendly Floatees it's worth some money to sell on Ebay.
posted by stbalbach at 6:28 PM on March 17, 2014

Oh oh synchronicity, I came across this ocean debris artist today too. A whole 'nother level of "junk art."

Also thanks for sharing! I've helped with a few beach clean ups on Oahu and am always stunned by all the stuff that washes up.
posted by spamandkimchi at 6:29 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

This is wonderful. Thank you!
posted by rtha at 6:30 PM on March 17, 2014

One of my favorite factoids is that the Hawaiians used logs, mostly cedar, from the Northwest Coast of North America for their canoes. Apparently there were beaches around South Point on the Big Island that only royalty were allowed to forage on.
posted by Danf at 9:02 PM on March 17, 2014

The Flood & NOAA's Art redux.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 9:31 PM on March 17, 2014

Oh! Via Edible Geography's post on container spotting, "Deep Cargo: An Ocean Of Lost Shipping Containers" mentions seabed containers, Friendly Floatees, and beach debris:
Beachcombers strolling on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, USA, on November 30th, 2006 were greeted by a strange sight: thousands of bags of Doritos tortilla chips had washed up on the beach, along with the partially open cargo container that they were originally packed into. The chips were dry and edible as they were sealed in bags – a fact that may have allowed the container to float all the way to the beach.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:16 AM on March 18, 2014

Topic-related near-future sf short story, "Driftings," by Ian McDonald.
posted by aught at 8:47 AM on March 18, 2014

You can also follow NOAA's Marine Debris Program on twitter. They don't post a ton, but do occasional Q/A sessions on there.
posted by inigo2 at 9:09 AM on March 18, 2014

> One of my favorite things is a rubber duck I found on the rocks at a beach in Kennebunk, Maine

Then you might enjoy reading Moby-Duck.
posted by The corpse in the library at 1:31 PM on March 18, 2014

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