posted: March 31st, 2009 | by:Bert
©Bert Gildart: If anyone (THE SAD NEWS) doubts that the oceans of the world are being polluted, all they need do is make a four-wheel drive down the Gulf side of Padre Island National Seashore. The drive is not for the squeamish, for you must be aware of tides that can block return routes. You must be aware of the washboard-y sand and the long nails from an occasional board that could lie buried beneath the ever-changing sands. To aid us on soft sands we let out about 30 pounds of air pressure, reducing our tire pressure from 80 psi to 50 psi. For beach driving that’s SOP.
Padre Island displays pollution as few other places in the world can do, for about 20 miles down the Gulf shore two major tides converge, unofficially designated as the “north current” and the “south current.”
One of the currents starts in the Caribbean, hooks around the Yucatan, then smacks against Padre Island. The other begins in the Caribbean, but pushes north around the Gulf toward the Mississippi where it then converges with the south current, most significantly near Big Shell Beach on Padre Island. For those driving the beach, it is about 20 miles south of the Maliquite Campground. Not surprisingly, because of the name, shells here are big–and beautiful–but it is here that much trash, garbage and debris from all over the world has collected.
Granted, some of the junk shown in my pictures is the result of a massive cleanup effort on the part of the National Park Service. Because of Hurricane Ike, which occurred last year, pollution is considerable and much is of local origin. But some of the items have come from as far away as the Orient, from Nicaragua, and from Mexico.
Much, as Mike Smith, a VIP here at Padre noted, has also come from shrimp boats. Providing a few numerical figures helps put the situation in perspective. Recently, volunteers collected 800,000 pounds of trash–but there is an estimated 3M (that’s 3,000,000 pounds) more yet to be picked up. And somehow if Padre’s beaches could all be magically cleaned today, tomorrow, efforts would have to be renewed, for our oceans have become massive garbage dumps–as the currents converging on Padre so sadly reveal.
That’s the bad news from travels along the beaches of Padre, but obviously, much beauty and much of interest still remain, and for us, as we traveled this lonesome section of Padre Island, that was some very great GOOD NEWS. For days, I’ve been trying to find a ghost crab and that has become such an obsession that the other night I walked the beach with a flashlight, hoping to find one of these elusive creatures, which tend to roam at night. Another day I’d hiked the beach with an old collapsible military shovel we always carry for emergency, digging around holes that I thought would serve as a home to–the GHOST CRAB. But no luck, either with the flash light or with the shovel.
But all that changed along the remote beach, when Don and Nancy (RV friends we often travel with) called out, “There goes one. There goes another!”
Leaping from the truck, I scurried after the object of my fascination, and did so time after time, for we were seeing them frequently. Finally, I cornered a large crab and this one chose to fight rather than to run. But it was oriented in the wrong direction. Not to be dissuaded I tried grabbing the crab from the rear, only to discover his large pinchers could reach most anywhere and pinch me from near its behind (It felt like a brand new mouse trap.) as well as from its front.
Today, though my fingers are black and blue, that’s the good news, for the marks remind me that after much prodding and several more bites, I managed to get the picture I’d been hoping to get. Isn’t that worth a little pain and suffering?