Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Dead Dolphin ashore May 2016

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Thanet coast - Sealink ferries and beach plastic.

 Sealink cross channel ferries that operated from Dover ceased to be in 1984. The company may have been and gone but the legacy of marine debris that originates from the cross channel ferry trade still continues to haunt us. Over the past month or so three identical plastic items from over 32 years ago have appeared on the north Thanet coastline. Two were found at Margate and the other further along the coast at Grenham Bay Birchington . The origin being Sealink ferries.
 Beach plastic is now opening another chapter in coastal history as items going back to the 1970's are now being reported as found. The finds may be interesting but they really do raise environmental concerns.

Found by Tony Ovenden Margate main sands

Found by NEKMPA coastal warden Terry Wilson Grenham Bay Birchington.

Found by Margate mudlark Frank Leppard on the Nayland rock Margate.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Sandwich Bay shipwrecks - Teredo navalis

The location of the five shipwrecks on the Sandwich flats is no big secret as they can be easily seen from the shore All that remains are the ribs and some planking. The ends of the ribs have suffered badly from the wood boring bivalve known as the Teredo worm (Teredo navalis). Occasionally wood from these wreck sites break away and are found ashore and many are good examples of Teredo worm infestation. This example of a oak rib I found a few months ago has now dried out and I have cut sections of if. It can be very decorative  and does some natural artistic appeal.

I have cut this cube of infested oak as an specimen sample.

Friday, 23 December 2016

Thanet coast - the deterioration of the B17 flying fortress on the Sandwich flats

 In the coming weeks as the weather becomes more winter like there will be further evidence ashore of the B17 flying fortress on the Sandwich flats breaking up. As it stands to remove anything from the crash site is illegal unless you hold a MOD licence to do so. But as items break away the items are classed as surface wreckage and a licence is not required. However the MOD department that deals with military remains still need to be notified of any finds.
The most common and easily identifiable item to find ashore along the coast from Deal to Sandwich and Pegwell bay is pieces of corrugated inner wing panel. This gave the B17 its wing strength but after 73 years underwater, time is taking its toll. In the first photograph is an example of the starboard wing breaking up as the inner wing deteriorates exposing rubber fuel tanks.
This past year I have found pieces of inner wing panel the full length of Sandwich bay, in turn I have collected it and given it all to the RAF Manston History Museum for them to conserve and deal with.

Inner wing panel and fuel tank on site.

Inner wing panel as found .

Some pieces are very badly corroded

An example of a inner wing panel before the cleaning method I have adopted.

Example of most of the corrosion removed and ready for the next stage for the RAF Manston history museum to deal with.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Thanet coast - collecting items from the life and death cycle of marine life.

The Thanet and Sandwich coast like any other coastal region has a natural life and death cycle of marine life. Evidence is not to far away and can be found mostly on the strandlines of over 22 miles of coastline. Dead carcasses ashore are not a uncommon find but from a natural history collectors point of view I would think the bones  would more collectible.
Building a collection is easy but it is very time consuming walking miles of coastline. I have built up a small collection which to be honest I have come across by accident as I comb the beaches looking for shipwreck remains and evidence of.
This year (2016) the deaths of porpoises top the finds list followed by Gannets. I have also been lucky to come across common seal bones where the origins are from the local seal colony in the River Stour Estuary.
I have posted a few photographs of some of the finds I have in my collection.

Razorbill beak, I have donated it to the Monkton nature reserve collection.

Razorbill skull

Remains of a Gannet ashore recently in November

Part of a beak from a Gannet part of the remains after a scavenger had attacked the carcase.

In no particular order common seal bones including a nice Scapula

Another common seal bone (Ischium)

Vertebrae of a harbour porpoise

Samples taken from vertebrae in the previous photograph all clean and presentable.

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Thanet coast - latest finds and reports.

At present the Margate mudlarks are having a bit of a jamboree finding a mass of small items. On the low water areas they are finding many shards where the provenance is directly linked to the paddle steamer companies. Collectively the items found to date are putting together a timeline of the Victorian and Edwardian seaside at Margate. Also in this mix of finds a couple of items linked to the Whitley mark V that ditched near the Nayland Rock on the 3rd September 1940 have been found.
Elsewhere, a few days ago remains of a dead porpoise have come ashore at Minnis Bay Birchington . This now makes this years total of six dead porpoises on our coastline to date.There has been no signs anywhere of barrel jellyfish ashore like this time last year.
Throughout the coastline the alert is to look out for palm oil coming ashore, so I expect over the coming weeks there will be more examples to be found and reported in the media.
At Sandwich Bay out on the flats the B17 flying fortress is continuing to break up as more of the site has become exposed. Items can be found ashore as far as the Deal end of the bay and into Pegwell bay. On the low water areas of the Sandwich flats the bones of five shipwrecks can be seen from the shore. These are becoming an attraction to walkers in the bay. Ashore at Sandwich bay a few large items of shipwreck have been coming ashore indicating a large sailing vessel offshore is breaking up. However it is hard to say if the timbers are linked to one vessel.
In the coming months in the new year with the winter gales giving the bay a good pounding. I expect there will be more discoveries of unexploded ordnance. In the early part of this year my tally was six finds. It sounds impressive but I know others have come across more going by newspaper reports and I expect more headlines.
As we enter the winter proper the diversity of finds ashore along the Sandwich and Thanet coastlines will increase and it will be happy hunting.

Copper sheathing found ashore - scaled in inches.
Part of a base of a Bartmann jug circa 17th century found ashore.

I reported this encrusted shell to the coastguard on 24.04.16 and it was dealt with.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Another Palm Oil Alert on the Thanet coastline.

Since the that Autumn there have been reports of more palm oil coming ashore in a solidified form along the Thanet coastline. Palm oil is also hazardous to dogs . Members of the public are being asked to report any sightings to the local authority. Thanet district council 01843 577000.
In late November there were sightings at Sandwich and Pegwell Bay, I have a few samples of which I have a posted a photograph above. I have picked up a few quotes worth noting on the subject.
"Two incidents with dogs taken to vets known about since November. Samples have been taken for testing, so we should know exactly what types have washed ashore here. These lumps can wash ashore at any time, so please do keep your eyes peeled in case you see it wash up on our beaches over the festive holidays, & if so please report it directly to the local authority - eg Thanet Council: 01843 577000."
"Seems that these incidents may often originate from the flushing of a ship's bunkers - where they have transported oils/mineral fats (eg palm, coconut oil etc) that are transported around the world. Oil flushing has been successfully stopped over the last 2 decades - just hope that they can stop this too. "

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Sandwich Bay shipwreck timbers ashore.

Towards the end of November 2016 , the wind stayed onshore for many days often reaching gale force. Over this period the shingle beach changed from a series of stepped terraces of shingle to a steady slope. In these conditions the most diverse pieces of driftwood do come ashore.
Many of these timber remains are of a shipwreck origin and some are easily identifiable as such. On the 26th November two larger items came ashore. It is hard to link them to a specific shipwreck as there are many offshore wreck sites with the Goodwin Sands on the doorstep. Both items were oak and of a large construction.