Lightbulb of the Sea ( or Marine Debris )

People don't read signs, apparently

I wish that these were selected images from several weeks worth of photographs taken while on the shores of the Indian River Lagoon system.  I wish that it were very easy to enforce the $100 fine the sign above suggests.  But the truth is that there is simply too much debris – trash – in the Lagoon to know where to begin with.  The truth is that I found and captured these images in just a few hours, let alone a single day.  Beach cleanups aren’t the answer.  They go a long way in correcting the problem, but they dont address the source. 

And what is the source?  You, me, Aunt Bertie, cousin Saul, your old college roommate, the crazy neighbor down the road who is always trimming his roses and watering the lawn late into the night. 

Some of these items are nautical in nature.  Forgotten buoys left to accumulate barnacles like an artifical reef.  Its styrofoam and nylon.  Everlasting until dislodged. 

Moving from the Lagoon to the shoreline of the Atlantic, we find more.  Styrofoam plates and plastic cups.  The rubber sole of some forgotten shoe.  Plastic bags.  The mouthpeices to a hundred cigars and bottle tops.  Tabs from ancient aluminum soda cans that have finally been brought up from the sea floor. 

Even a lightbulb of the sea.  I find it hazardously perplexing that something as delicate as blown glass can survive the thrashings of the surf.  No ink, no metal base, no filament.  But the glass was wholy unscathed. 

You might wonder if I played the true documentarian and did not interfere with the tragedy of the commons on display in front of me.   But I found myself picking up quite a few of the peices.  The styrofoam buoy above sits in my living room.  I’m thinking of sending it on to someone who can tell its tale in art. 

The most interesting revelation on this day?  That the attitude of many people towards trash as dirty, unclean, and germy extends so far that it can prevent them from rescuing beaches and shorelines from the unnatural influx of plastic, rubber, and styrofoam.  I was admonished not to pick up this glove since it could have been medical waste.  And while that’s plausible, it seems more probable to me that the ocean had already scoured the item of its evils.  I teased my companions that they should take my photo then and there, Haz-Mat glove in hand, as a “before the deadly rash ended poor Sarah’s life” picture. 

If only every day were Coast Day, International Coastal Cleanup day, or World Ocean Day.  If only every day we could find the time to decrease the trash in our lives and in our waters.  If only lightbulbs didn’t know how to swim. 

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