Tag Archives: December

Day’s End Brace Cove

Is this flotsom or jetsam or neither?

Flotsom Marine Debris Brace Cove Gloucester MA Beach ©Kim Smith 2014Large Tangled Mass Washed Up at Brace Cove  ~ approximately 8 feet wide by 5 feet high

I’ve always used the words interchangeably to describe any debris washed up on the beach, not realizing there is a notable difference. From the NOAA website: “Flotsam and jetsam are terms that describe two types of marine debris associated with vessels. Flotsam is defined as debris in the water that was not deliberately thrown overboard, often as a result from a shipwreck or accident. Jetsam describes debris that was deliberately thrown overboard by a crew of a ship in distress, most often to lighten the ship’s load. The word flotsam derives from the French word floter, to float. Jetsam is a shortened word for jettison.

Under maritime law the distinction is important. Flotsam may be claimed by the original owner, whereas jetsam may be claimed as property of whoever discovers it. If the jetsam is valuable, the discoverer may collect proceeds received though the sale of the salvaged objects.”

It is also noted on the website that the majority of trash that covers our beaches and floats in our oceans comes from sewers and storm drains, as well as from recreational activities, namely from picnickers and beach goers.