Lately there’s some optimism to the environmental news as air quality improves and carbon emissions reduce. Environmentalists caution that worldwide quarantines aren’t a sustainable way of dealing with the climate change crisis. But even so, it’s nice to see a positive change in the environment is possible. Our oceans in particular suffer from single-use-plastics, pollution, and rising temperatures. If you haven’t heard about the trash island in the Pacific, brace yourself. There’s 1.8 trillion individual pieces of plastic in our oceans (250 for every person on earth), some of which gathered into an island twice the size of Texas in the Pacific Ocean. With all that garbage washing up on our beaches, sometimes beachcombers find some weird items.
During a seasonal beach cleaning event in New Jersey, volunteers discovered an empty bag, used for holding cremated remains. Plenty of people want their ashes spread at sea, but maybe a pressed-for-time loved one tossed the bag, wholesale, right into the water. (x)
Up and down the north Atlantic coast in North America, beach strollers exercise caution when examining shoes washed up on the beach. More often than not, a foot is present inside. At a rate of just over one per year, feet wash up on the shores of Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia. There’s not a foot fetishist serial killer, however, most of the feet belong to accidental deaths or suicides in the water. The feet separate from the legs through natural decomposition and wash ashore separate from the remains. (x)
There’s no word on how the proposal went, but somehow a $6,000 engagement ring ended up amongst the litter collected by dedicated citizens in Asbury Park, New Jersey. A Nancy Drew in the making used a smartphone and natural sleuthing ability to find the ring’s rightful owner. (x)
If you saw ambergris on the beach, you might give the waxy grey substance a wide berth. It’s gross, an excretion from the digestive tract of whales that sometimes washes up on shore. Perfumers use it in making lasting fragrances, historically it’s appeared in food and drink, in incense, and some cigarette manufacturers still use it to flavor cigarettes. It’s worth braving the ew-factor though, as this couple learned, finding a lump worth over $70,000.
New York’s waterways are home to all kinds of strange artifacts, which sometimes wash up on the beach. On Staten Island, Great Kills Park is home to 4 beaches where strange items wash up amongst seaweed. One of those items, found in the early aughts, was an articulated robot hand, missing two digits. The online journal Underwater New York chronicles the items found throughout the New York waterways.