Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Spectacle Island

Spectacle Island is a very interesting place. Way back in the day it used to be an island where Boston shipped all of it's garbage to. It was not the most pleasant place because of this. They had a little village of sorts on the island and the children on the island had a lady come in every weekday to teach them grade school. When they became old enough they would travel to the mainland for high school. The island also had a small pond on it where the locals could go skating on in the winter. Unfortunately, the Spectacle Island we saw was a very different place. I say unfortunately because there is no longer a pond on Spectacle that you can skate on in the winter. In fact, there is no pond period on Spectacle Island. There are also no old houses or remnants from the old village that used to be here. The only memories of what Spectacle used to look like are in photographs at the visitors center in the island. Spectacle used to be a little village where garbage was dumped and burned, animals were turned into candles and alcohol was brought during prohibition. The Spectacle Island of present day is a popular destination for swimming and day trips. The island is made up of landfill brought by boat to the island to transform it to its present state. The island is very impacted by human use, much like the Barking Crab.

Our mission today was to find out what part of the beach was best for shells and other things of the sort. The coolest thing about the fact that this island used to be where garbage was dumped and burned is the amount of old things that wash up on shore. The beaches of Spectacle are covered in sea glass and ceramics among all sorts of other interesting treasures.

Each group was given a circular site marker in which they had to place somewhere along the beach and calculate the relative abundance of the things found inside the markers edge. Our group decided to put the different groups of things into cylindrical piles and measure the volume of each. We decided to make four different groups: rock, glass, ceramics and shells.

This is what we found:

The first sight we ventured to was about 20 yards up from the water's edge. We observed this at around 1:20pm. At this sight there were a lot of different things. The largest quantity of things was rocks with glass coming in a pretty close second.

We made a pile of rocks with dimensions 1in. high with a 12 in. diameter. This gives the rock pile a volume of 113 cubic inches.

The glass dimensions were 1in. high with a 6 in. diameter. This gives the glass a volume of 28 cubic inches.
The ceramic amount we found measured 1/2 in. high with a 3 in. diameter. This gives the ceramic findings a volume of 4 cubic inches.
The shell amount we found at site 1 measured 1/2 in. high with a 2in. diameter. This gives ad volume of 2 cubic inches for the shell quantity.

The second sight we chose to observe was right at the water's edge. Here we found a different quantities of things inside our ring. At this site we had a much larger volume of rocks. There were much larger rocks than further up the shoreline and so we decided to separate these large rocks into their own group for sorting. At this level there was a much different abundance relative quantity value thank the site further up on the beach. There is barely any ceramic and shells at this level. There is however a much larger quantity of rocks and there are also much larger rocks that were not found in the site up the beach. We observed this site at around 2 pm with the tide coming in (we guessed it to be around 5-6 ft).

The large rocks pile dimensions were 3 in. high with a 12 in. diameter. This makes the large rock volume to be 339 cubic inches.

The smaller rocks pile dimensions were 2 in. high with a 10 in. diameter. This measures a volume of 157 cubic inches for the smaller rick pile.

The Glass pile was a 1/2 in. high with a 3 in. diameter. This means there is a volume of 0.5 cubic inches.

The ceramics was 1/4 in. high with a 1 in. diameter and the Shells pile was the same size as this... there was very little of both of these things at this level. The volume of the ceramics and shells is each 0.4 cubic inches.

From all of these observations, I have concluded that to find ceramics and shells one wants to go further up the beach to around the high tide line. This is because these two things are much lighter and can be carried up the beach more easily by the water. Heavier things like the large rocks do not generally make it that far up the beach because it is harder for the water to move these objects. Glass seems to be lighter than rock but heavier than shells and ceramics. It is the most dominant thing on the beach besides rocks.
An interesting observation we made as a group on the island was observe a broken moon-snail. the shell was completely broken to pieces by a large rock. With this observation, it is believed that there is a type of bird that uses rocks to break open shells so that it can eat the animals inside. It would be interesting to come up with an experiment to prove this. One would have to understand the density and brittleness of the shells in question and at what height they must be dropped from in order to break open. Also, one would have to see all the different animals that can get to this height to break the shells. After these things have been figured out, one can set-up an observation on a particular animal or at a particular location to see if they can observe this in nature. Also one can set up a simulation model of what they believe is happening and see if they are able to get the same results as their prediction.

After all of our data gathering we roamed the beaches for the most interesting things we could find that washed up on shore.

I found this to be a very lovely day on the Harbor Islands. Spectacle Island was one of the most interesting beaches I have ever been to. I have never seen any beach with more sea glass. This was truly a unique experience.

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