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Sunday, January 25, 2015

Beach Clean; Critters Galore

Time for the January Long Beach clean.  The local community of Long Beach has a well organized volunteer group which makes every effort to care for the worlds longest beach.  Some members of the community walk their portion of the 28 mile beach every day.  Every January during the period of highest tides there is a call for a big community wide clean.  This effort is repeated every April during Earth Day weekend and on the 5th of July.

In years past I have worked the beach strip in Long Beach proper.  Other years I did the beach near my lodgings; Cranberry Approach.  This year I opted to work on one of the more isolated areas.

The drive down was wet and rainy.  It never let up.  The radio promised weather in the 50s and possibly 60 by Sunday.

Hard to believe this weather is going to turn into 55+.  Waiting for a train in the rain.

I was happy to see the little Thai restaurant open after the owners long vacation.  These women present the best food with a real charm.  From Thanksgiving to Christmas  they were enjoying a trip to their homeland.

Saturday morning dawned as usual.  It was not raining so that was a bonus.  I elected to wear my windbreaker pants and coat and a fleece hat.  No thermal layers, no waterproofs.

The fog was settled and this was about as good as it got all day.

This gentleman and his dog walk the beach every day and pick.  He was the only citizen aside from me for the first half hour.  Eventually we were joined by others and some of the neighbors who live on the beach were seen coming down from their property and work around the front of their properties.  My fleece hat was soon in my pouch and the coat undone.  I could feel the warm.  There was no wind at all.

It is a worthy effort.  Tons of debris comes ashore each year and tons are removed by volunteers.  A majority of the debris these days are bite-sized plastics.  Caps, broken shards of plastic junk.  Several years ago it was tsunami debris; line, floats, household goods.  This line has likely been at sea for some time.  That is a small Goosneck Barnacle.

Very rare was the large debris like plastic bags or bottles.

I did find this little treasure

Picked two bags which were left for pickup and decanted 1/2 bag to the pickup truck and carried out 1/2 bag for a total of three bags.  Almost all of it plastic.  It is easy to spot.  Bright blue dominates.  Anything perfectly symmetrical or evenly colored is likely man-made.

The beach changes every day.  Tides roll in and out giving and taking.  The winds can cover over debris and treasures overnight.  Sometimes you can spot something just by the way the sand in mounded.

This winter has been hard on the sea-life.  In December it was noted that seabirds were being found dead of starvation in the hundreds.  The persistent warm front in the NE Pacific may have driven their food out of reach  They are still being found.  I easily found 20 small petrels, two gulls and what I think is a shearwater.

  These gulls are gathered around what appears to be a young Elephant Seal.  These seals are known to stray north from California and perhaps the warm systems led it astray as well.  The Ravens and gulls were feasting.

A Merlin falcon flew up off the beach as I worked.  This was its handwork.

The day never cleared and I went in search of a bookstore and lunch.  After recharging, another short walk on the beach with bag in tow.

This morning it was sunshine all the way home and the promised 60 degree weather overdid itself.  I note that it was 73 degrees near the Willapa Bay NWR and 64 at the beach.

Cranberry bog in the morning.

Next trip for beach clean is in April for Earth Day.  It will probably snow.