It’s not necessarily a comment on the macro problem of marine debris and it is probably little more than a positive anecdote, but after being out a the coast this weekend, I am feeling a little better about the condition of at least one beach.
The little cove just south of Portage Head, just barely north of Shi Shi Beach and Olympic National Park, was the dirtiest one we stopped at during the Roadless Coast expedition back in 2012. Our surveys here show the incredible spike in trash, lots of fishing gear, styrofoam and the uncountable mass of plastic bottles that were everywhere underfoot at and above the high tide line. Compared to the other beaches we surveyed on that trip – and we saw some dirty ones – this one was far and away the worst.
Since then, I’ve been going back to this same beach, clambering and sliding down the “trail” through the ferns, dirt and devil’s club, sometimes alone and sometimes with larger groups, taking away whatever can be carried. The big cleanup days in April and September have made the most impact, with groups of up to 20 being down there at the same time, and that many people can really make a difference.
And it does look different, better. There’s still way more there than there should be, especially foamed plastic, the smaller sizes mixing in with the substrate and literally becoming part of the firmament. But with all that said, nine of us spent a couple hours there last Saturday and we were able to bring up about 25 floats and a dozen bags of trash. A couple of years ago, we could have gotten that much in a matter of a few minutes. Whether it’s all the cleaning that has been done in the past three years or just the way the waves have moved the debris off the beach – or a combination of these two factors – it is unquestionably cleaner now.
I am going to look at this as a positive development, a whiff of success, for once. I am looking forward even more to the next chance to visit.