Sunday, October 25, 2009

Beach Cleanup - Scusset Beach at the Scusset Beach State Reservation

October 25, 2009 Beach Cleanup on Scusset Beach
NECWA staff and friends had a very successful beach cleanup this morning and had a lot of fun as well. Starting at 9 am, everyone met at Scusset Beach State Reservation to begin a two hour cleanup effort. Present were NECWA staff, student interns and their families both young and old. 

This cleanup effort was part of the COASTSWEEP program. Volunteers throughout Massachusetts turn out in large numbers each year for COASTSWEEP, the statewide beach cleanup sponsored by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) and coordinated by the Urban Harbors Institute (UHI) of the University of Massachusetts Boston. 

COASTSWEEP is part of the International Coastal Cleanup organized by The Ocean Conservancy in Washington, DC. Participants all over the world collect marine debris and record the types of trash they collect. This information is then used to help reduce future marine debris problems.

To learn more about Coastsweep and their accomplishments,go to

As part of this cleanup effort, participants not only pick up trash and other types of debris on the beach, but they also record these items on specially prepared data sheets. And at the end of the event, trash bags containing those items collected over the course of the cleanup were weighed to provide an estimate as to the extent of this human-created problem. 

The most unusal items that were collected today were an ottoman and a tire. The tire was buried deeply into the sand, but that didn't detour the youngest participants of our cleanup effort. Merrick and Jamie took it upon themselves to extract this tire from the sand and worked hard to accomplish this goal. These boys spent a good half an hour digging out the tire using just their hands and a small toy shovel they found on the beach. At last, sweet success! And what a great feeling everyone had as they carried this tire back to the collection area. 

A successful morning for everyone involved. We were able to collect over 50 pounds of garbage from this beach and had a fun time doing it. Just being outside on such a beautiful day was wonderful. Thanks to all who participated in this cleanup effort including Pat, Nick, Leah, Belinda, Merrick, Michael, Krill, Jonah and Jamie.

This cleanup effort was a collaboration with Capt. John Boats out of Plymouth, MA ( We hope to make this fall cleanup an annual event so please join us next October. Marine debris is one of the greatest threats to many different types of marine wildlife. Beach cleanups are just one way that we can try to tackle this growing problem.

Ocean Sunfish Necropsy on October 25, 2009 - Sandwich Beach, MA

NECWA staff, interns and friends returned to Sandwich Beach to find the ocean sunfish that had stranded on the beach just the other day. When any marine animal strands and then washes onto a beach, it is a very sad event and one that we try to prevent whenever possible. In fact, NECWA had responded to this same ocean sunfish the other day when it was still alive but was in danger of stranding on this beach. Although we were not successful in saving this fish, the carcass can still provide valuable information to us so in an sense, their death is not a waste. 

So starting around 10 am, Krill, Nick Schromburg and Cory Heston began a 5 hour long process of conducting an external and internal examine of this animal. They were assisted by other NECWA staff members and friends including Belinda Rubinstein and Rick. Many people walking the beach were very curious as to what was going on, and this also provided an opportunity for NECWA to educate and involve many members of the general public, both young and old.

As this team collected measurements on the ocean sunfish, it was apparent that this was a very large individual close to 6 feet in length. Due to this animal's great size, it is impossible to weigh this fish on the beach, let alone try to move it. But the fish was probably close to 400 pounds in weight. 

As soon as the external exam was finished, Cory started the internal examination by cutting into the ventral (bottom) part of the ocean fish. These fish are not easy to necropsy since they have a very thick layer of hard reticulated collagen just under the thin, gray skin. But results from this necropsy provided a number of valuable bits of information.  

This fish turned out to be a female that looked in excellent condition. This fish had a very low parasite load and had very thick reticulated collagen. The function of this collagen layer is not clear, but it may help this tropical fish stay warm in our cold waters or it could be important in allowing this fish to dive deep in search of its favorite food, jellyfish and other gelatinous critters.

All in all, this necropsy was a huge success for it helped NECWA staff better understand the basic body plan, internal and external, of this very strange and unusual species. And many tissue samples were collected and these samples will be shared with other scientists also studying this species.  

October 23, 2009 - Ocean Sunfish stranding on Sandwich Beach, MA

Around 3:00 pm, a call came into NECWA about a live ocean sunfish (Mola mola) that was in danger of stranding on Sandwich Beach, a public beach just over the Sagamore bridge on Cape Cod. The MA Environmental Police were alerted to this possible stranding and called Krill for assistance. When Krill arrived on the scene, the sunfish was still alive, but was not fairing well since it was very close to the beach and was getting pounded by the crashing waves. This animal had been in the surf for over 2 hours and was in great danger of stranding on the beach. 

Krill was introduced to Terry, the gentleman who first notified MA Environmental Police of this potential stranding. As Krill donned her was dry suit and got in the water with the animal, Terry headed down to a local scuba shop to see if their staff could provide assistance. The plan would be to push the ocean sunfish out into deeper water and past the surf line. This was not going to be an easy feat given the size of the waves and the fish itself. This ocean sunfish was at least 6 feet long and probably weighed over 400 pounds. 

As Krill held the fish in shallow water trying to keep it from getting pushed further up on the beach, a local fisherman stopped by and tried to assist in this rescue. Soon, he and Krill were able to get the fish past the surf line and into deeper water. This was a valent effort by the fisherman since he had no dry suit, yet still got into the water with this fish. But by this time, the fish was not doing well and soon ended up getting pushed by the waves back onto the beach. Greg McGrath from the local scuba shop and a few of his friends soon arrived on the beach ready to assist. But as they waded into the water it was apparent that the ocean sunfish had died. 

This rescue effort was a valent effort by many organizations and individuals. NECWA (and especially Krill) would like to thank all those who helped out. This rescue attempt was truly a team effort from start to finish as folks worked together to assist this animal in any way that they could. It was a very sad day for everyone on the beach and everyone admired the beauty and size of this magnificent yet very strange looking fish. We can only hope that the next ocean sunfish rescue will be more successful. 

Monday, October 19, 2009

October 24, 2009

UPDATE: Rescheduling of Cleanup Effort on Scusset Beach to raindate!

Beach Cleanup at Scusset Beach
Sunday, October 25th from 9 am to 11 am
Due to the rain that is predicted for this coming Saturday, October 24th, we have reschedule our beach cleanup for Sunday, October 25th from 9 am to 11 am. 

We hope you can still join us for this very important event. Participating in a beach cleanup is one small way that we can tackle issues related to marine debris.

NECWA is partnering with Capt. John Boats for this cleanup effort that will be part of Coastsweep, the beach-wide cleanup effort by the State. Participants all over the world collect marine debris and record the types of trash they collect. This information is then used to help reduce future marine debris problems.
Hope to see you on Sunday. 

Carol "Krill" Carson

Please join NECWA staff and working members for a beach cleanup at Scusset Beach this Sunday, October 25th. This cleanup effort will be part of Coastsweepthe beach-wide cleanup effort by the State. 

Coastsweep is part of the International Coastal Cleanup organized by The Ocean Conservancy in Washington, DC. 
Participants all over the world collect marine debris and record the types of trash they collect. This information is then used to help reduce future marine debris problems.
So help us be part of the solution to pollution.