The Marine Debris team hits the shoreline at the Glades,
just south of the Adams Estate (August 24, 2017).  
 
The team was recording debris found in the high tide lines. They were particularly interested in observing the presence of personal care items (such as tampon applicators) because they suspect that these items are released from CSO's (Combined Sewer Overflows) in the Quincy and Boston areas during heavy rainfall and carried to Cohasset and Scituate shores by prevailing currents. The evidence observed suggests the confirmation of their hypothesis.  
 
   
 
 CSCR’s Marine Debris Research Team shares findings with Representative Meschino

August 22, 2017

Written by students Connie Chapman, Eleanor Dunn, and Avery Nard in collaboration with Jack Buckley


 
 

On August 14, a group of students from CSCR, the Cohasset Center for Students of Coastal Research, took a trip to the Senior Center to meet with our State Representative, Joan Meschino. The topic of conversation? Marine Debris. Over the course of the summer, the Marine Debris Team at CSCR has been visiting various beaches and shorelines around Cohasset, collecting both trash and data. As reported by the team, Cohasset’s shoreline looks relatively clean but it takes just a short walk down the beach to find otherwise. “In fact,” says Connie Chapman, “It only took four of us to find over 500 pieces of trash in under an hour. And we really weren’t killing ourselves to look, either!” Most of the time these items are plastic bags, food wrappers, straws, bottles of all sizes and shapes, various other containers, and the Styrofoam DD cups that are ubiquitous wherever one finds debris. But, adds team member Avery Nard, “We’re really focused on finding the microplastics. These are the fragments that originally come from whole plastic items. And they’re everywhere! They’re smaller than your pinky nail, but easily seen when you train your eye to spot the red, blue, yellow and green specs sitting there in the high tide line.”


Microplastics are a growing concern among research scientists around the world and it’s a concern shared by Representative Joan Meschino. “My family is a fishing family, and we’ve always been attuned to the problems of marine debris. But, I’m especially concerned about the growing volume of consumer plastics discarded irresponsibly. Now that CSCR’s research team has brought to my attention just how problematic microplastics are along our shores, I’m even more committed to finding solutions to address this problem. The student research, especially the “show and tell” material they presented to me was quite impressive and quite compelling.” Student Eleanor Dunn sounded a similar note. “It was just so reassuring, having Representative Meschino listen to our findings and discuss them with us like we were adults. We've worked hard this summer and to have someone in her position tell us she was going to help us make change made our hours of work worth more than just a learning experience.”

As the summer comes to a close, it is time to start discussing a next course of action. According to Representative Meschino, that action would include meeting with local leaders and organizations such as Cohasset Conservation Trust, The Sandy Beach Association, the Conservation Commission, the Board of Health, the Selectmen, and our State Senator, Patrick O’Connor. Meschino also encouraged the students to take their show on the road. “While one can easily dismiss the odd ball items occasionally found on a beach (adult onesies, dental floss holders, or golf ball) and the typical items left behind by the forgetful beachgoer (flip flop, toy, swim goggles, wireless speaker), one can’t dismiss the unsightly bucket of tampon applicators collected by the team from Bassings Beach! Nor can one dismiss the jars full of microplastics that the team has assembled to educate the public. I want the students to share this evidence with everyone who will listen to them.” So, people of Cohasset we are asking you point blank: Please pick up your trash!

No matter how small

the piece of plastic seems,

it will affect us all,

our environment is coming apart at the seams!

 

Marine Debris Clean Up


CHS Freshmen Class Coastsweep 2016

The following was compiled by multiple members of the CHS class of 2020

On Oct. 25th, 2016, the ninth grade class of Cohasset High School accomplished a “coast sweep” of Cohasset beaches including Bassings Beach, Black Rock Beach, Sandy Beach, and Scott’s Shore. We were out of school for more than half the day cleaning the beaches, and tallying our results for the Commonwealth’s annual program known as Coastsweep. We knew ahead of time that the wind chill along the coast was going to be very cold, even though it had been such a warm October. Many of us wore two sweatshirts, two shirts, two pairs of socks, two pairs of pants, gloves, and hats; but still the cold seemed to make its way to our bodies, leaving us shivering by lunchtime at Government Island.

Our goal was to clean up trash, not only larger pieces such as bottles, but also smaller bits of debris such as cigarette butts and bottle caps. All four beaches looked clean and well-kept from the road, but once we stepped on to the beach, we realized how dirty it really was. As we started to walk we uncovered so much litter and trash that it seemed as though someone had come before us and purposefully placed it there for us to find.

Many of the things members of our class enjoyed included digging out and hauling away dozen of mangled lobster traps and large bundles of twisted and tangled rope partially buried on the shore. (One thing you don’t get to do much during school is use a knife to cut thick pieces of rope!) We used teamwork and student horsepower which greatly contributed to the group’s effort. We also enjoyed finding the weird things such as shotgun shells, and what looked like IV bags. But, there were many disgusting things, too, including condoms, syringes, a bottle of what appeared to be pee, and some dead birds.

We gathered all different types of discarded fishing supplies, balloons, foam pieces, fireworks casings, clothing, coffee k-cups, and much more. Cataloging all of the strange debris we found made us realize the enormity of the problem. The trash affects the community… the people, animals, and environment. The experience left us wondering: if this much trash has accumulated on the coastline of our small town, how much must there be in other parts of the world.

When getting on to the warm bus after picking up trash for three hours on the cold windy October beaches, we were very excited. The weather was not the best, but the fun we had is something we will always remember.

We finished our task knowing that we had worked together with our friends and classmates helping the community and the environment.

Special thanks are extended to the Sandy Beach Association, the Cohasset Conservation Trust, the Sherbrooke family (for lending us a shovel and knife), and the Cohasset Harbormaster, Lori Gibbons, for ferrying us and our trash over to and back from Bassings Beach.


Coastsweep Data Oct 25, 2013