Friday, August 6, 2010

The treasures of Spectacle island

I was quite impressed with what I have seen in Spectacle Island, but I wanted to know a bit more about its transformation. In a Boston Globe article I was able to find some more information about its recent history. I was very impressed when I read: "It is said that the smell of the dump was so foul that in foggy weather ships could get their bearings simply by the stench emanating from the island". I am very impressed that in less than fifteen years, an island that was used as a city landfill, horse-rendering factory, and quarantine station, became such an interesting and pleasant place where I happily swam.

In fact I liked so much that I volunteered to take the next boat (I'd like some extra credit for this please). I am also sorry to inform you that you missed out the most magnificent view of Boston.

Our visit in Spectacle island was very interesting especially considering that we went there after we read the article about the "tragedy of the commons." As I already told you in class, I thought that we were asked to read the article because one of the interpretations was that the "tragedy of the commons" is about the need of having national parks. The following quotation shows how: "The national parks present another instance of of the working out of the tragedy of the commons. At present, they are open to all, without limit...the parks themselves are limited in extent." (Garett Hardin, The Tragedy of the Coommons, 1968). My interpretation is that there cannot be free and unrestricted access to the National Parks because they would soon be extinct. This is why there should be laws and special provision to protect the National Parks as needed in each case. From my (limited) knowledge I know that National Parks in the United States have special rules that are strictly enforced. Spectacle island is no exception since from what I gathered you cannot camp, remove anything from the beach etc.

When we arrived at the island we talked a bit about how we are going to gather data in both a systematic and a non- systematic fashion. We were particularly interested in the abundance of each thing we found, but also in finding things that were particularly interesting to us. Our methodology for the systematic data collection was to use a hula that was 49." We placed the hula in different spots and then we categorized and counted everything we found in the hula. The non-systematic way was to walk across the beach an pick things that there interesting to us.

We collected out first data sample a few inches below the highest rack line, and about 80 feet from the lowest-tide and included the following (thank you Joseph for measuring the distance, and Nikki for writing down the data we collected):

  • A very big amount (too many to count) of white, green and some brown pieces of glass
  • 20 pieces of some dark coal-like rock. Our group thought that it was Iron Ore
  • 5 smoother pieces of something that we identified as coal
  • 5 pieces of Razor Clam
  • 10 (some broken) blue mussels
  • 7 very small pointy shells
  • 230 shells of periwinkles
  • 6 barnacles
  • a few parts of disintegrated crabs
We gathered the second dataset as close as the low tide as possible (turned out not to be the best decision ever since by that time the tide was rising). We found the following:
  • dark and light grey rocks
  • 2 alive mussels (some brave group members followed my example and ate them!)
  • 1 periwinkle
  • seaweed
  • a pair of women's slippers

A brief look at the treasure, what impressed me the most (probably the best part of my post):

I am very proud of this finding. It was pretty intriguing and we had to get help from an expert to identify. I have to say that our amazing group was very right in guessing that it is the front of shell.

This brown glass with the numbers is pretty intriguing to me.
I do not understand what these numbers that look like math do
in a glass piece that looks like a bottle to me.

This is something that I identified as a part of a white? Pepsi bottle

I couldn't help it. This is a great picture of our group discussing about our interesting findings. After our first experiment, every time I go to the bathroom I look at whether the water drains clockwise or counterclockwise. After our visit spectacle island, every time that I will visit a beach, I will take the time to examine what I can find rather than just swimming, tanning and doing other activities.

A very unrelated note, but I am sure that Spectacle island would be the paradise for Orhan Pamuk. The museum he has set up in Istanbul and his latest book the "Museum of Innocence" make me think that he would be very interested in finding out about the history of many of the things we found.

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