Thursday, August 5, 2010

Spectacle Island / Stripers

Spectacle Island:

Although we discovered evidence of seashore creatures, such as moon snails, razor clams, oysters, and even a dead skate, the archaeological artifacts were by far the most interesting specimens to me. As a classics major, I’ve spent some time studying archaeology, although most of the artifacts are about two thousand years older than those on Spectacle. It is often the case that “dumps” like Spectacle result in treasure troves of archaeological evidence. In antiquity, Roman authorities would dispose of old amphorae on a small hill, which is today known as Monte Testaccio. It is still possible to visit the site and collect shards of broken amphorae, which are often inscribed with information about the quantity and contents of the amphorae. While examining the sea glass we were often able to figure out exactly where it came from (Coca Cola, Pond’s, Noxzema, etc). Although the artifacts themselves were interesting, I’m assuming the more important lesson was about data collection. The main point I took away from our two exercises (searching the beach for cool stuff, and then sorting the contents of the hula-hoop) was about two equally important ways of collecting data: examining the contents of a sample in order to gain perspective on what quantities of various objects are prevalent, and also searching for outliers which may end up being particularly interesting to examine.

As for the physical characteristics of the island, I would say it is fairly unique, largely due to its long history as a dumping ground. I would say that I saw evidence of the “brazil nut theory” on Spectacle, since many of the artifacts had accumulated at the top of the beach, and along the wrack lines.


As a recreational fisherman in the state of Rhode Island, I would support the lifting of the ban on fishing in federal waters. Rhode Islanders rarely reach half of their quota of 93,000 pounds of striper, which makes me think recreational and commercial fishermen alike would want the opportunity to fish federal waters. When you look at a map you notice that much of Block Island Sound lies more than 3 miles off shore, including areas between the island itself and the mainland, it would only make sense for these areas to be fishable.

Personally, I tend to agree with this perspective, not necessarily because I love to fish, but because I know just how much revenue fishing and tourism can generate in coastal New England towns. As we discussed in class, the number of jobs created and the amount of revenue generated by recreational fishing is even greater than that of commercial fishing. Furthermore, it only makes sense that Rhode Islanders should have the opportunity to at least meet their small quota. (I also can't help but think of Billy Joel's song "Downeaster Alexa," which has made me forever sympathetic to the cause of local fishermen.)

As for the edible part of today’s class, I really enjoyed the sashimi, even if I took too much wasabi. Had I been heading straight home, I would have loved to take a piece of the fillet, which I probably would have blackened.

Looking forward to seeing some whales tomorrow!

Amir Farhadi

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