Piles of debris turning up on east coast beaches

  • May. 1, 2012 9:00 a.m.

By Jane Wilson-There has been a noticeable increase in beach debris washing up on the east coast of the Graham Island, particularly styrofoam, a surprise to people who were expecting the brunt of tsunami debris to be seen at North Beach.Cacilia Honisch and Carolyn Hesseltine live in Tlell and walk the beach daily.”There hasn’t been much this winter,” said Ms Honisch, “which is when most of the stuff normally comes in, because we have the high tides then.” The two regularly pick up garbage washed up on the beach as they do their daily walks.They say they started noticing more debris in March but it really got worse in the last couple of weeks. There’s also been a change in the flotsam that’s appearing.”Some of the styrofoam we’re getting is the stuff they use inside of boats or containers, it’s that big heavy yellow stuff and you can tell it’s been glued onto something else and there’s also wood on it as well,” said Ms Hesseltine. “There are the floats, but then there’s also structural styrofoam out there as well.”They have a pile of the waste they’ve collected since the middle of April, a pile that is now the size of a small car. “We can’t do the whole beach, but whichever way we walk we try to do it,” said Ms Hesseltine. “It’s a matter of, you can leave it for someone else, or you can do it yourself.”Islanders shouldn’t be surprised that the debris is turning up on the east side of the island, said oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer.”It’s not an unusual pattern,” he said, recalling a boatload of Nike shoes lost at sea in 1992. “Remember in the 90s, the sneakers were turning up on the east side.”Dr. Michael C. Healey, professor emeritus of biological oceanography at UBC, had a similar opinion.”Near the coast, winds and tides and freshwater inflow all complicate the current patterns, so debris washing up in apparently anomalous places is not a surprise,” he said.As for why the debris might pass by North Beach and end up on the east side, Dr. Healey said, “the water moving up the west coast of Haida Gwaii will move faster than the water through Hecate Strait. So there will be water spilling east around the north end of Haida Gwaii from the Haida current and coriolis force. The combination of these two flows (up the east side of Hecate Strait and along the north side of Haida Gwaii) sets up a southward drift along the east side of Haida Gwaii.” As more debris appears on Haida Gwaii, Ms Hesseltine and Ms Honisch suggest another reason why islanders might be interested in helping with the clean-up: Ms Honisch found a prized glass ball on one of their recent beach cleaning walks. “There’s a whole bunch of positive reasons to be collecting the stuff,” said Ms. Hesseltine, “but then there’s a prize for that, you just might get lucky.”

Just Posted

Prince Rupert’s ferry issue is a North Coast issue, MLA Rice

Prince Rupert not alone in fight to save ferry to Ketchikan: Alaskan Rep. Ortiz

Brand new vessel for Massett Marine Rescue

The Tagwaal was unveiled to the public Sept. 6

First Nations given max compensation for Ottawa’s child-welfare discrimination

2016 ruling said feds didn’t give same funding for on-reserve kids as was given to off-reserve kids

Council Briefs: Village of Queen Charlotte

Child care and clean-ups on the agenda

Power restored to 120,000 customers after northern B.C. transmission failure

Lightning is suspected to be the cause of the outage, says BC Hydro

On the Wing: Small Yellow Flying Things

by Margo Hearne Distance doesn’t seem to deter migrating birds; they travel… Continue reading

Canucks sign Brock Boeser to three-year, US$17.6-million deal

Young sniper will be in Vancouver Tuesday

B.C. forest industry looks to a high-technology future

Restructuring similar to Europe 15 years ago, executive says

RCMP conclude investigation into 2017 Elephant Hill wildfire

Files have been turned over to BC Prosecution Service

B.C. wants to be part of global resolution in opioid company bankruptcy claim

Government says settlement must include Canadian claims for devastation created by overdose crisis

B.C. ends ‘birth alerts’ in child welfare cases

‘Social service workers will no longer share information about expectant parents without consent’

U.S. student, killed in Bamfield bus crash, remembered as ‘kind, intelligent, talented’

John Geerdes, 18, was one of two UVic students killed in the crash on Friday night

Free Tesla 3 offered with purchase of Surrey townhome

Century Group’s offer for Viridian development runs through Oct. 31

B.C. communities urged to improve access for disabled people

One in four B.C. residents has disability, most want to work

Most Read