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One day of pleasure, trash forever.

The Daily Bucket is a place where we post and exchange our observations about what is happening in the natural world in our neighborhoods. Birds, blooms, bugs & more - each note is a record that we can refer to in the future as we try to understand the patterns that are quietly unwinding around us.
July 2013

There was a bit of a blow last week which drove the waves far up the shore to the highest point all summer. The lake was pounding for 2 days; the wind and the noise of wave after wave breaking and rolling under will wear you out. Since this part of Lake Ontario is sandy flat, one can walk out almost 100 yards in the water. There's a series of sandbars - the first is close in with water at your ankles. Wade thru water belly high and you reach knee high water at the 2nd sandbar. Continue out and water rises to your shoulders before you step up to a 3rd sandbar.  

When we get the big waves, with whitecaps flagging as far as the horizon, waves break on each of the sandbars, reform, and break again. That's each wave breaking 3 times. Or all together, that is 3 waves curling over and foaming up at once, or a lot of noise.

The farthest sandbar has the biggest bodysurfing curls - if you catch it right. . .

wow - just saw this. Swimming across Lake Ontario - the long way!
Five women swimmers embark on Lake Ontario relay swim in Kingston, ON.
They should be near matching mole's hometown in a week. Track here

Anyways - big waves wash lots of litter and trash around. Walking the beach early the next morning to see what came ashore, I was struck by the number of party balloons and ribbons.

From the Dune Coalition (where my mom was a founding member long ago)

On the southern section of Lakeview Wildlife Management Area (WMA), primarily accessible by boat, litter that washes ashore doesn't take very long to accumulate. One litter item that might be over-looked is the occasional balloon and piece of ribbon. However, this week one steward decided to see just how many balloons and ribbons had washed up on a small half mile section of beach at Lakeview WMA. When all the ribbons and balloons were tied together the result created a visual impact that shocked visitors to the area.

Ribbon poses a large threat to fish, waterfowl, and other wildlife who can easily become entangled. Mylar balloons are a non-biodegradable product that will remain as part of the landscape for generations to come. Releasing balloons into the air after a celebration may be beautiful, but those balloons will fall somewhere, changing the natural landscape.

More photos and links and whatever I find to fill a bucket below the twisty orange ribbon.

I didn't know this - NOAA studies this floating waste (pdf).

Balloon strings are significant because one of the most notable types of impacts from marine debris is wildlife entanglement. Entanglement can lead to injury, illness, suffocation, starvation, and even death. Adopt-a-Beach volunteers in the Great Lakes record wildlife entanglements and have found several instances of wildlife entangled in balloon strings as well as monofilament line and rope.
NOAA Marine Debris Program has a blog,  

and someone else that started a blog on the subject: Balloons Blow… Don't Let Them Go!
There's some gross pictures of the damage done when birds ingest one.

Often the balloons are gone after the lake has thrashed them. The rubber ones, torn into pieces, drift to the bottom. Mylar - damn mylar - does not disintegrate but floats around till the ribbon snags a log or boat prop, or the whole thing lands, or maybe drifts out to sea. Meanwhile balloonless ribbons roll ashore - blowing around with the wind and tangling in bushes or burying in the sand and washing out the next storm.

Ribbons wrap around most anything. Imagine if this snared a diving tern or cormorant.

A big balloon shredded into strips of rubber.

This woman is blogging on the curse of mylar balloons as she walks the shorelines of all five Great Lakes.

I didn't know this: Pangaea Explorations launches research journey into Great Lakes

... the expedition yacht Sea Dragon will travel to Cape Cod, Massachusetts in late June 2013 to kick off the Great Lakes expedition. Throughout the course of the trip, there will be eight separate legs, where the different “citizen science” groups will switch off to assist in hands-on research focused primarily on plastics in the Great Lakes. The groups include undergraduate students, senior citizens, teachers and more.

At first I thought this was what's left of a sky lantern after it got lit and sailed away in the evening sky but those are supposed to be made of paper. Some places are now banning these floating bags of fire - for obvious reasons.

This is what should be washing ashore - a small limb that has been floating around long enough to grow a beard.

And to give you an idea of how big the waves were, this buoy that marked the park's swimming area was anchored a good 100 yards out. It came ashore a quarter mile up the beach.

Pleasant 70s all this week but we could use a bit of rain. Big waves started up again yesterday as the westerly wind got stronger. The waves smashed all thru the night, and the sounds echoed off the woods behind me as I lay in bed. It can be peaceful.

And The Daily Bucket is now open for your thoughts and observations...

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"Green Diary Rescue" is Back!

After a hiatus of over 1 1/2 years, Meteor Blades has revived his excellent series.  As MB explained, this weekly diary is a "round-up with excerpts and links... of the hard work so many Kossacks put into bringing matters of environmental concern to the community... I'll be starting out with some commentary of my own on an issue related to the environment, a word I take in its broadest meaning."

"Green Diary Rescue" will be posted every Saturday at 1:00 pm Pacific Time on the Daily Kos front page.

Originally posted to Backyard Science on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 05:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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