2024.03.07 | Flotsam Arrives in Cambria

Cotton bales and empty barrels started washing ashore this week from a shipping accident that happened on February 7 off Monterey.  Twenty-three containers containing cotton, barrels, and car parts were lost.  Some containers have opened at sea releasing floating cargo. The flotsam is now arriving on County beaches.

     While the empty barrels pose little environmental risk, once the cotton bales that weigh 480 pounds when dry become saturated, they burst apart spreading fibers all over the beach and potentially smothering coastal plants and animals.  At least one bale washed ashore where elephant seals are breeding.  

     An overflight of the coast from north of San Simeon to Vandenberg Space Force Base was conducted on March 5 found 48 cotton bales on the shore from San Simeon to Grover Beach. One bale is on the beach at the Fiscalini Ranch Preserve and three just south of that on the Rancho Marino Reserve where eight large bags of debris have been collected from the shore.  Recovery and cleanup operations are starting on March 6, concentrating on the bales that can be accessed and removed easily.  Those bales in areas with no or limited beach access will be difficult to remove and might take more time.

Article first published in https://cambriaca.org/