Monday, September 7, 2009

deadliest catch and a migrating channel

One of our most recent surveys took us to the beaches of Westport and Ocean Shores, Washington. The city of Westport is founded on the fishing industry, on which its economy still depends. Of course, this meant that we were faced with the challenge of an increased amount of crabpots on the water just beyond the surfzone. These are always a nuisance to the pwc drivers, but this area was particularly risky due to the extra long lines that connect the buoys to the rusty cage resting on the sea floor.

It is always an issue that I worry about when I'm on the water because I've heard the stories of crabpot lines getting sucked up in the pwc intake...and of course the only way to get it out is to jump off the boat, flip it over and cut it off...all this while you are praying that the fishermen do not come back to retrieve their prized catch.

And what would field work be without a dose of daily drama...on the first day of field work in Westport, a member of our crew had the unpleasant experience of meeting up with a crabpot line! The line was so tangled around the propeller shaft that it killed the boat and actually cracked the seal into the engine! By the time the other boats arrived to tow the pwc back to the marina, the boat had begun to take on water and actually titaniced and had begun to submerge! Luckily, the pwcs are built with enough floatation that they will not completely sink, but water was definitely in the engine so we needed to act quickly!

The boat was towed to the nearby marina and winched onto the trailer and we were able to salvage the engine (we think!), but the rope was still tightly wound around the shaft, leaving the boat un-usable for the rest of the week...
crabpot line tangled around the shaft in the intakemy adviser attempting to cut the line out of the intake

The region south of Westport (Cape Shoalwater) has experienced massive erosion/accretion fluctuation for hundreds of years. The sand changes it's migration patterns, favoring one side of Willapa Bay over the other in terms of where it settles. It's an 8-10 year cycles and it is presently favoring the beaches further south on Long Beach. After surveying one afternoon, we decided to head down to some of the hardest hit areas to check out the damage. It was really mind-blowing to see the areas where people had attempted to build houses that were literally washed away by the winter storm waves. Houses had fallen off of once stable dunes, foundations were uplifted and partially covered by sand, and abandoned vehicles there were now barely above their sandy, salty graves were all that was left of the community. As we walked along the beach and looked at these ghostly scenes, I couldn't help but wonder what the area looked like when these establishment plans were first made...and what the progression of attitudes from the homeowners/community members was when the erosion began to occur. I realize that the loss of this area was a slow evolution, but it looked as if it had occurred overnight and it was now the makings of the lost city of Atlantis. For more information about this area, check out this website...
our survey team walking to Cape Shoalwater...this tree stump was washed ashore by the massive winter waves in Washingtonall that remains of an abandoned car that was left to the waves
what appears to be a bulldozer that maybe found itself at the wrong place during high tide years ago
homeowners attempting to protect their home by constructing their own wall of riprap
piping lines of a home that was washed awayi'm not sure what this is...a WWII machine gun nest or a septic tank...?
the wind picked up and the sand began to leave the dunes, nourishing the beach...the lighter color sand is actually being carried by the wind
these steep dunes indicate massive erosion
a channel marker (left) indicating the other side of the freshwater that enters the ocean from the nearby river.