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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tsunami Ghost Boat Drift According to OSCURS - March 27, 2012

By Curtis C. Ebbesmeyer, Beachcombers’ Alert,

Jim Ingraham, DriftBusters Co.,

Please report flotsam to:
            On March 20, 2012, Canada’s Department of National Defense spotted a derelict vessel on the order of 100-feet long off the Queen Charlotte Islands (Figure 1).  Subsequent investigation traced the vessel to northern Japan where the great tsunami of March 11, 2011, washed it out to sea. 
            Using the computer model known as OSCURS (Ocean Surface CURrent Simulator; see other blogs at this website for descriptions of OSCURS), Jim Ingraham reconstructed the drift of the vessel ending on February 29, 2012, the last date for which daily weather data is available from the US Navy via NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Figure 2). 
Jim achieved a reasonable simulation of the vessel’s drift using a wind factor of 2.1.  Jim will receive the daily March weather from the US Navy via NOAA in the first few days of April.  This will allow him to update OSCURS for March showing where and when the vessel might come ashore.  We will update the vessel’s drift in a subsequent blog.
            Judging from the devastation in Japan, we believe additional vessels set free by the tsunami are drifting toward America.  Figure 3 shows the OSCURS simulation we believe indicates where these other vessels may be heading.   The destinations range from the Gulf of Alaska south to waters between California and Hawaii.  Some vessels may loop around the Gulf of Alaska and the Great Garbage Patch located between California and Hawaii.
            We urge mariners to be vigilant.  Please report derelict vessels to Curt at www.flotsametrics.com.


Figure 1.  Aerial photo of the Japanese fishing vessel discovered adrift off the Queen Charlotte Islands.  Photo credit: Canada’s Department of National Defense.


Figure 2.  OSCURS drift for Japanese Boat No. 1 using wind factor 2.1 ending on February 29, 2012.  The trajectory (wiggly line) from the start-point proceeds day by day according to the weather data at the location of the vessel. The trajectory ends on February 29, 2012, the last date for which daily weather data are available from the US Navy.  Jim Ingraham OSCURS simulation.


Figure 3.  Possible locations of other derelict vessels based on OSCURS drift for wind factors 2-3 ending on February 29, 2012.  Vessels may be in the vicinity of the colored circles at the end of the trajectories.  All totaled, this computer run shows 36 drift tracks, i.e., flotsam with six wind factors starting on March 11, 2011, at six coastal locations.  Start-points are stars along the tsunami coast.  The colors of the 6 start-points from north to south are: black, red, green, blue, light purple, and gray.  All trajectories (wiggly lines) from each start-point are the same color of that start-point.  To represent various wind factors, six trajectories begin at each start point according to wind factors spaced at 0.2 intervals: 2.0, 2.2, 2.4, 2.6, 2.8 and 3.0.  End-points are the circles of the same color.  Most of the time, the end-points are distributed by the fastest (largest magnitude) wind factor leading the way -- as seen in the black trajectories.  Each trajectory ends on February 29, 2012.  Jim Ingraham OSCURS simulation.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Tsunami Debris Types 1-6, 372 Landfalls Reported by >50 Beachcombers,California to Alaska, October 2011 - February, 2012

By Curtis C. Ebbesmeyer, Beachcombers’ Alert,
Jim Ingraham, DriftBusters Co.,
March 15, 2012       
Please report flotsam to www.flotsametrics.com
Summary: 
Flotsam from Japan’s 311 tsunami have washed ashore during five months (October 1, 2011, through February 29, 2012) totaling 353 Types 1-3, and 15 Types 4-6.  The landfalls range from northern California to Kodiak, Alaska, with most frequent strandings occurring in Washington State, USA, and Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. 
According to the latest OSCURS computer simulations (the most widely peer-reviewed flotsam model available), flotsam with intermediate wind factors (3-4; possibly parts of homes and fishing vessels) has begun arriving in America, but so far none have been reported. 
At the end of the blog, please see a simplified comparison of flotsam drift from Japan with four different wind factors varying from slow (wind factor 1) to fast (wind factor 4). 
Note: Illustrations may be found at the end of this blog.





OSCURS Update
--- Wind Factor is Key
       Each month, Jim Ingraham updates the flotsam model known as OSCURS (Ocean SURface Current Simulator).  Monthly updates are made possible by the daily US Navy weather data supplied at the end of each calendar month by the Pacific Fisheries Environmental Laboratory, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  The following estimates of flotsam position are based on daily weather measurements made across the North Pacific Ocean along the track of each flotsam.
            Calculating the position of flotsam depends not only on accurate weather data, but inputting into OSCURS the wind parameters which describe a flotsam’s behavior in a given wind.  Basically, the higher a flotsam sticks above the water, the faster a given wind will sail it across the ocean.  Wind factors vary from 1 (slowest) to 5 (fastest) and correspond to transpacific drift speeds of roughly 7 (slowest) to 20 (fastest) nautical miles per day.
Jim Ingraham developed OSCURS during the 42 years he was employed at NOAA.  While at NOAA, he applied OSCURS to many aspects of fisheries science.  The science behind OSCURS is contained in a number of technical reports published by NOAA.  A version of OSCURS for public use is available on the internet.
            OSCURS, as applied to scores of flotsam, is based on peer-reviewed science published over the past 30 years.  Readers are referred to many articles published in the Transactions of the American Geophysical Union concerning the drift of Nike sneakers, tub toys, hockey gloves and a message in a bottle.  The drift of flotsam from Oregon to the islands in the vicinity of Midway Island was published this year in the Marine Pollution Bulletin.
Furthermore, dozens of other flotsam have been reported in 65 issues of the quarterly newsletter Beachcombers’ Alert (copies on file at the NOAA Library, Sand Point, Washington).  Jim Ingraham and I have reported on scores of flotsam having widely varying windage factors.  Consequently, OSCURS is the most widely tested and peer-reviewed flotsam drift model available.  It is for this reason that we have a high degree of confidence in the results presented in the blogs at this website (www.flotsametrics.com). 
            Each time Jim runs OSCURS, he lists the wind factors.  Without such factors, a flotsam drift map cannot be interpreted.  Figures 1 and 2 show OSCURS drift maps for wind factors 1-2 for 36 flotsam starting along the Tsunami Coast of Japan on March 11, 2011, and ending on two dates separated by three months: November 30, 2011; and January 31, 2012.  Comparing these two maps for the same windage makes clearly evident the drift which occurred in the three-month time interval.
Wind Factor 5 Flotsam
       --- 5-Month Summary: October 1, 2011 – February 29, 2012
            In a previous blog at this website, Curt described wind factor 5 flotsam beginning to make landfall in America in early October 2011.  To positively identify this flotsam, we have typed them 1-6 as shown in Figures 3, 4.  With this shorthand, each report was identified through photographs exchanged via email with beachcombers. 
With five months’ hindsight, we can see that these six types have been stranding during October 1, 2011 – February 29, 2012, totaling 353 Types 1-3, and 15 Types 4-6.  The landfalls range from northern California to Kodiak, Alaska, with most frequent reports from Washington State, USA, and Vancouver Island, Canada.
Following is a summary of the possible origins.  Please note that more than 99 percent of all flotsam washes up without clear identification as to date and place of origin.  Here are our best estimates as to origins of Types 1-6:
Types 1-3.  These appear to have originated from oyster farms.  About half the Type 1 buoys come ashore with relic oyster shells.  The brands on a few have been traced to individual oyster farms.
Type 4.  Red plastic containers for storing kerosene.  According to our contacts in Japan, most households along the tsunami coast had several of these for storing kerosene used in heaters to keep their homes warm.  Washed ashore, they are usually empty and bear the distinctive aroma of kerosene.  12 have so far washed ashore, thus far without bearing family names.
Type 5.  White plastic containers for storing vinegar.  When opened, these smell of vinegar.  So far four have washed ashore.  Vinegar is used in preparing food and for household cleaning.
Type 6.  Basketball sized black plastic floats.  Judging from the oyster shells found on them, these also appear to have originated from oyster farms.  They are so numerous that beachcombers cannot count them all.
During the five-month interval October 2011 through February 2012, more than 50 beachcombers have reported the arrival of 353 Type 1-3 buoys between northern California and Kodiak, Alaska.  Organized by month, the arrivals as expressed as a percent of the 353 total are:
October                    1 %
November                4 %
December                4 %
January                  66 %
February                24 %
            As to type, most are the Styrofoam Type 2 (70.8%), with Type 1 (28.5%) and Type 3 (0.7%) making up the remainder.     As they drift across the Pacific Ocean, many of the Type 2 buoys apparently break up into smaller chunks of Styrofoam.  As to frequency of stranding, by far most have stranded along Vancouver Island (84.6%), followed by Washington (10.6%), Alaska (2.2%), Oregon (2.2%), and northern California (0.4%). 
It is a question if the spatial pattern of recoveries will prevail for the main mass of debris which Jim Ingraham and I expect to begin arriving this coming October.  According to OSCURS (reported below), the arrival pattern appears to be holding for flotsam with intermediate wind factors (2.0-3.0).
What’s Next to Arrive on American Shores?
          --- Medium speed flotsam appears to be arriving in March, 2012
            Figure 5 shows the locations of 36 flotsam drifting at wind factors 2-3.  These are flotsam with wind factors intermediate to those of satellite tracked buoys (wind factor 1.0), and flotsam Types 1-6 (wind factors ~5.0).  The OSCURS trajectories indicate that flotsam with 3.0-4.0 wind factors has already begun to arrive in America (March 2012).  The identity of intermediate wind factor flotsam remains uncertain at this time.  We suspect it will include overturned boats and the crowns of homes.  Please report to www.flotsametrics.com.
Simplified Wind Factor Comparison
            Using OSCURS, Jim computed a simplified comparison of the effect of wind factors on the time when transpacific flotsam originating from the tsunami coast makes landfall in America.  Figures 6-9 show six individual flotsam released one each at the six sites along the tsunami coast.  These six sites are the ones shown by the stars Figures 1, 2, and 5.
            Experience gained in applying OSCURS to scores of transpacific flotsam over the past 30 years has shown that typical flotsam drift speeds vary from slow to fast.  Wind factor 1.0 expresses the slowest flotsam speed (approximately 7 nautical miles per day), and wind factor 5.0 expresses the fastest speed (approximately 20 miles per day).  Wind factor 5.0 flotsam began arriving last October, so we focus here on the question of the locations of slower flotsam having wind factors 1, 2, 3, and 4 (figures 7-9, respectively).
            Figure 7 shows the estimated locations of flotsam with wind factor 1.0.  These have drifted about half way across the North Pacific Ocean.
            Figure 8 shows the estimated locations of flotsam with wind factor 2.0.  These have not yet reached the coast. 
            Figures 9 and 10 show the estimated locations of flotsam with wind factors 3.0 and 4.0, respectively.  These have begun making landfalls.     
            This comparison shows that the slowest speed flotsam (wind factors 1, 2) have not yet arrived in America, whereas the fastest flotsam (wind factors 3, 4, 5) have made landfalls.
Thanks.  Jim and Curt thank the many beachcombers who took the time to report the flotsam described in this blog.  Glenn Cannon and Rob Hannigen reviewed drafts of this blog.

Figure 1. OSCURS: flotsam with wind factors 1-2 ending on November 30, 2011.  All totaled, this computer run shows 36 drift tracks, i.e., flotsam with six wind factors starting on March 11, 2011, at six coastal locations.  The start-points correspond to the stars along the tsunami coast.  The colors of the 6 start-points from north to south are: black, red, green, blue, light purple, and gray.  All trajectories (wiggly lines) from each start-point are the same color of that start-point.  To represent various wind factors, six trajectories begin at each start point according to wind factors spaced at 0.2 intervals: 1.0, 1.2, 1.4, 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0.  End-points are the circles of the same color.  Most of the time, the end-points are distributed by the fastest (largest magnitude) wind factor leading the way -- as seen in the black trajectories.  Each trajectory ends on November 30, 2011.  Jim Ingraham OSCURS simulation.
 
Figure 2.  OSCURS: 36 flotsam with wind factors 1-2 ending on February 29, 2012.  All totaled, this computer run shows 36 drift tracks, i.e., flotsam with six wind factors starting at six coastal locations.  Start-points correspond to the stars along the tsunami coast.  The colors of the 6 start-points from north to south are: black, red, green, blue, light purple and gray.  All trajectories (wiggly lines) from each start-point are the same color of that start-point.  To represent various wind factors, six trajectories begin at each start point according to wind factors spaced at 0.2 intervals: 1.0, 1.2, 1.4, 1.6, 1.8 and 2.0.  End-points are the circles of the same color.  Most of the time, the end-points are distributed by the fastest (largest magnitude) wind factor leading the way -- as seen in the black trajectories.  Each trajectory ends on February 29, 2012.  Jim Ingraham OSCURS simulation.


   

Figure 3.  Three Types of oyster buoys:  Type1 (top panels) — Cylindrical shaped hard plastic with handles at both ends, some with ribs around them.  They come in black and orange; Type 2 (lower left) — Cylindrical shaped Styrofoam, some covered with orange, yellow and blue canvas; and Type 3 (lower right) — Football-shaped, orange and yellow.  Dave Ingraham photo collage.
Figure 4.  Type 4 (upper left), kerosene containers; Type 5 (upper right), vinegar containers; Type 6 (bottom panels), fishing buoys, many with oyster shells.  Dave Ingraham collage.

Figure 5.  OSCURS drift for wind factors 2-3 ending on February 29, 2012.  All totaled, this computer run shows 36 drift tracks, i.e., flotsam with six wind factors starting on March 11, 2011, at six coastal locations.  Start-points are stars along the tsunami coast.  The colors of the 6 start-points from north to south are: black, red, green, blue, light purple, and gray.  All trajectories (wiggly lines) from each start-point are the same color of that start-point.  To represent various wind factors, six trajectories begin at each start point according to wind factors spaced at 0.2 intervals: 2.0, 2.2, 2.4, 2.6, 2.8 and 3.0.  End-points are the circles of the same color.  Most of the time, the end-points are distributed by the fastest (largest magnitude) wind factor leading the way -- as seen in the black trajectories.  Each trajectory ends on February 29, 2012.  Jim Ingraham OSCURS simulation.


Figure 6. OSCURS drift for wind factor 1.0 ending on February 29, 2012.  All totaled, this computer run shows 6 drift tracks, i.e., flotsam each with wind factor 1.0 starting on March 11, 2011, at the six coastal locations used in Figures 1, 2, and 5.  Start-points correspond to the stars along the tsunami coast.  The colors of the 6 start-points from north to south are: black, red, green, blue, light purple, and gray.  All trajectories (wiggly lines) from each start-point are the same color of that start-point.  End-points are the circles of the same color.  Each trajectory ends on February 29, 2012.  Jim Ingraham OSCURS simulation.

Figure 7. OSCURS drift for wind factor 2.0 ending on February 29, 2012.  All totaled, this computer run shows 6 drift tracks, i.e., flotsam each with wind factor 1.0 starting on March 11, 2011, at the six coastal locations used in Figures 1, 2, and 5.  Start-points correspond to the stars along the tsunami coast.  The colors of the 6 start-points from north to south are: black, red, green, blue, light purple, and gray.  All trajectories (wiggly lines) from each start-point are the same color of that start-point.  End-points are the circles of the same color.  Each trajectory ends on February 29, 2012.  Jim Ingraham OSCURS simulation.


Figure 8. OSCURS drift for wind factor 3.0 ending on February 29, 2012.  All totaled, this computer run shows 6 drift tracks, i.e., flotsam each with wind factor 1.0 starting on March 11, 2011, at the six coastal locations used in Figures 1, 2, and 5.  Start-points correspond to the stars along the tsunami coast.  The colors of the 6 start-points from north to south are: black, red, green, blue, light purple, and gray.  All trajectories (wiggly lines) from each start-point are the same color of that start-point.  End-points are the circles of the same color.  Each trajectory ends on February 29, 2012.  Jim Ingraham OSCURS simulation.

Figure 9. OSCURS drift for wind factor 4.0 ending on February 29, 2012.  All totaled, this computer run shows 6 drift tracks, i.e., flotsam each with wind factor 1.0 starting on March 11, 2011, at the six coastal locations used in Figures 1, 2, and 5.  Start-points correspond to the stars along the tsunami coast.  The colors of the 6 start-points from north to south are: black, red, green, blue, light purple, and gray.  All trajectories (wiggly lines) from each start-point are the same color of that start-point.  End-points are the circles of the same color.  Each trajectory ends on February 29, 2012.  Jim Ingraham OSCURS simulation.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

There's More to a Beach than Sand - Beach Trash and Treasure

a Discussion
by
E. Kay Gibson 


I regularly walk a stretch of beach on North Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce, Florida, picking up trash that has either been left behind or has washed in or been blown in by the wind and sea.  Where does it come from? 
I believe that the short answer for most of the sort of trash that finds its way on to our beaches here in Florida is three-fold:
accidental spillage from boats and ships, especially storm-tossed container ships,
thoughtlessness such as balloon launching, especially balloons trailing long strings.  Some come from local sources, but most come from cruise ships. 
The third and probably without doubt the biggest source is the deliberate dumping of refuse by third world countries in Central and South America and throughout the Caribbean islands that don't have the will and/or the financial resources to properly deal with their accumulated trash.  
99% of what I find and pick up is Trash -- most of it made of plastic.  The other 1% comes under the heading of "Treasures".  Spring Break, when the beaches are full of careless people, always results in a lot of interesting items.  Last year was especially fruitful:  hats, T-shirts, sun glasses, flip flops, socks, fishing gear, swim goggles, assorted kids' beach toys, a beach chair with the price tag still on it, and even an unopened can of beer that had been brewed in Rochester, New York. 
A breezy day out of the Southeast always brings in a collection of memorial things.  A couple of my favorites include The Lion King and this funky old soft shoe.

While there's a fun side of beach trash, there's also a serious side.
For the past 25 years, an organization known as the Ocean Conservancy has sponsored the International Coastal Cleanup.  On one day a year –always the third Saturday in September -- thousands of volunteers working worldwide in around 150 countries and locations pick up and inventory beach trash.  Over the 25-year time span since the first Coastal Cleanup occurred, volunteers have picked up more than 166 million individual items of trash.  Remember!  That's just the trash picked up from many of our world's beaches on one specific day of each year for the past 25 years.  Let's break down that number:
Nearly 87 million items fall under the classification of Shoreland and Recreational Activities and include such things as paper bags, plastic bags, balloons, beverage containers, caps, lids, plastic utensils, paper and plastic plates and bowls, food wrappers and containers, straws, 6-pack holders, and even shotgun shells and wadding and golf balls. 
Thirteen million items are categorized as ocean and waterway activities.  These include bait containers and packaging, bleach and other cleaning solution bottles used by recreational boaters and fishermen, buoys, floats, crab, lobster, and fish traps, cages, fishing line, fishing lures and gear, light bulbs and fluorescent tubes, oil and other lubricant bottles, pallets, plastic sheeting, rope, and strapping bands.

The sea did strange things to this knotted piece of poly rope.
Fifty-nine million items of debris originated from smokers and consisted of cigarette filters (52,907,756 to be exact), cigarette lighters, cigar tips, and tobacco packaging and wrappers. 


Quite clearly Smoking is Dangerous For Our Beaches.


Household appliances, batteries, cars, car parts, building materials, 55 gallon drums, and tires amounted to four and a half million items.
And lastly is the category Medical / Personal Hygiene: 
632,412 condoms.
863,135 diapers.
349,251 syringes – many with needles still in place.
599,355 tampons and applicator.

I found the statistics regarding all this trash amazing.  But not surprising. 
Have you ever seen this number?  144,606,491.  That's the weight in pounds of all of the trash that has been collected annually worldwide by Ocean Conservancy volunteers since the annual cleanup began.  That amounts to 72,303 TONS OF TRASH.
Since those numbers are almost too large to comprehend, let me give you a little easier figure to contemplate:  eight million.  The year 2010's one-day International Coastal Cleanup resulted in a collection of more than eight million pounds or 4,000 tons of trash.  It's incredible!  4,000 tons of trash picked up worldwide on our beaches in one day.  That's enough trash to cover 170 football fields.  It was picked up by more than 615,000 volunteers – ordinary folks like you and me -- scouring the coastlines of our world's oceans, lakes, and rivers. 
In Florida on that one day in 2010, volunteers picked up 174 tons of trash.  It would require twelve of a community's largest compacting trash trucks loaded to their fullest capacity to handle that amount of trash. 
Over the five winters that I have been walking on a beach here in Florida picking up trash, I have found quantities of all of the items enumerated by the Ocean Conservancy except for household appliances, batteries, cars, and car parts.  In their place I did find part of an airplane that crashed in the Atlantic last winter. 
Somewhere buried under miscellaneous in the figures I have given you is a reflection of the great numbers of tooth brushes I find.
Also reflected under miscellaneous are the shoes, hats, T-shirts and other assorted clothing that finds its way to the beach. 
But the figures don't include the black lace lady's unmentionable that I found alongside an empty champagne bottle one New Year's Day morning. 
Folks who came to hear my initial presentation of this paper wondered why I regularly hike "my beach beat" and were surprised by simple answer:  Sea Beans.
Dozens of different types of beans and seeds regularly wash ashore on the beaches of the east coast of Florida.  A few of the plants that produce these seeds and beans grow in Florida, but most are from tropical locations as far away as the Amazon River basin.  I put my sea beans in a basket as I would shells but some folks make and sell lovely jewelry.

I also look for items which fit into the category of marine biology:
A Mermaid's Purse is a protective egg case for either a juvenile clear nose skate or a stingray –or perhaps both.  It is released into the ocean and floats until the young skate or ray hatches.  The "arms" on the Mermaid's Purse enable it to entangle itself in the floating Sargassum weed where it finds protection from predators.  At about nine weeks, the tiny animal escapes from a break in the skin of the mermaid's purse.
Sargassum, which has more than 500 varieties, is a type of sea weed.  It is also classed as algae.  Unlike a land weed, it does not have a plant system of roots, leaves, etc., and it does not reproduce using seeds.  Rather it sends out long arms that branch into more arms or limbs that continue branching, eventually creating huge floating beds that if left undisturbed can cover acres of the ocean.  Sargassum weed has as part of its structure small balls that are air bladders that support the algae and enable it to float and remain at the ocean's surface where it gets the sunlight that it needs for the process of photosynthesis.  While most Sargassum weed stays afloat, strong winds can blow some ashore where it gathers at the high tide line forming lines of weed called wrack.  Caught up in the Sargassum wrack are treasures, some of which include the seabeans which I and countless others collect.
On rare occasion one might find in the wrack a white bony structure which resembles Christ on the cross.  This comes from the skull of a gafftopsail catfish also known as a sailcat.  In addition to having this unique skull bone, the male sailcat carries out a unique function.  It holds the eggs of the female sailcat in his mouth to protect them from predation.  He can carry up to 50 of them.  Because of its unique skull bone, the sailcat is referred to as the Crucifix Fish.


Purple sea snails, which are also found in the Sargassum wrack, have a unique mechanism for staying afloat.  Their "foot" secretes a cluster of tiny bubbles that give the snail buoyancy.  Eventually the lucky snail that hasn't been eaten will find a bed of Sargussum where it finds both protection and food.
The most exciting find I have ever made is the egg case from a small complete paper nautilus which is a member of the octopus family.  The egg case I have is less than 2" high so it is estimated that this was from a first-year mother whose scientific name is argonauta argo.
The female paper nautilus – not to be confused with the beautiful channeled nautilus of the Pacific – creates the beautiful egg case from secretions and stays nestled within it until her eggs hatch and the young are ready to fend for themselves in the open ocean.  At that point, she swims away from the egg case, the young drift away, and the fragile white egg case is set adrift, floating like a small boat -- occasionally coming ashore. 
Also exciting and in a totally different class was the rock I found that looks like Mickey Mouse.


Messages in bottles are always a fascinating topic of discussion.  Over the years while my husband and I were doing long-distance boating between Maine and the Bahamas and the Caribbean Islands, I sent a number of messages by "sea mail."  Much of it eventually reached its intended recipient.  The most interesting bottle was launched about two miles off the coast of Morehead City, North Carolina.  It was found exactly one year later on a beach in Genoa, Italy, having made an extraordinary journey that eventually took it through the tiny Straits of Gibraltar.  My bottle and similar ones are mentioned in Flotsametrics and the Floating World by Curtis Ebbesmeyer and Eric Scigliano. Only a few other bottles are known to have made a similar journey.  Since I started spending winters in Florida a few years ago I have had the fun of experiencing what it's like to find a bottle carrying a message.  The first was launched from Key West by students conducting a drift study.  The second was launched by a young man who was serving as Second Mate on the Chinese container ship transiting the Gulf Stream.  He included his email address and was anxious to correspond with an English speaking person so he could try to improve his language skills.
The last bottle pictured below, has an interesting history.  It was launched on June 1, 2004, off Sombrero Key in the Keys as part of a study of conch larvae movement.  The study was conducted by the Gulf Caribbean Fisheries Institute.  When I found the small bottle, it was pristine as if it had just been launched, so I was surprised to find that it had been around for so long.

The scientists and I surmise that it was washed ashore and buried by the movement of sand during the hurricanes which struck Florida in 2004.  This fall, very strong easterly winds caused tremendous amounts of beach erosion on Florida's east coast.  That activity uncovered the bottle and set it adrift for a second time.  It was a lucky find indeed.
I hope I've brought you a little closer to your beach.  Wherever your beach is, it really is a very special place.  Thank you for helping to respect it and care for it.  And thank you for carrying a little trash bag with you the next time you take a stroll on the sand or the rocks.  Plastic on our beaches doesn't have to be a headache without a cure.



Here's the scoop on some great resources
Websites:  www.flotsametrics.com:  Up to date information on debris from Japanese tsunami.
                    www. SeaBeans.com.  Everything you wanted to know about sea beans and related beach finds is here.
                    www.Beachbeans.com.  More information on sea beans, source for seabean jewelry.
                    www.Ocean Conservancy.org.  Information on annual coastal cleanup and much more.
Books:
Sea Beans from the Tropics by Ed Perry IV and John V. Dennis
The Nature of Florida's Beaches by Cathie Katz
Flotsametrics and the Floating World: How One Man's Obsession with Runaway Sneakers and Rubber Ducks Revolutionized Ocean Science by Dr. Curtis C. Ebbesmeyer and Eric Scigliano

Moby-duck:  the True Story of 28,000 Bath Toys Lost at Sea and of the Beachcombers, Oceanographers, Environmentalists, and Fools, Including the Author, Who Went in Search of Them by Donovan Hohn

E. Kay Gibson is the author of Brutality On Trial:  Hellfire Pedersen, Fighting Hansen, and the Seamen's Act of 1915, published by University Press of Florida, Gainesville, FL.  She is also the author of Boatdog Bess published by the Great Cranberry Island Historical Society (GCIHS.org).  She is also the co-author of four books dealing with military marine transportation and which include Over Seas:  U.S. Army Maritime Operations, 1898 Through the [1942] Fall of the Philippines.  Kay divides her time between Camden, Maine, and Fort Pierce, Florida.    She can be reached year round at PO Box 638, Camden, ME 04843.