Tag Archives: Litter

And they’re back! Clean Harbor Swim


99 swimmers. 1.2 miles. Final racers coming in now. Well done all! Most were  in wetsuits–I  heard many comments about the water being cold. “The coldest one I remember.” I will add some information and photos here later when I’m at my office; complete results will be posted to the New England Open Water Swimming Association Facebook page. Mostly personal best athletic feel in the air, some clean connection.

First place (third year in a row)






Brian Barry has been participating since they moved here in 2002


And they’re off Clean Harbor Swim



Joey’s 2009 interview with Richie Martin


Related posts:

8/13/16, race above same day: And they’re back

8/12/16 Gloucester’s Clean Harbor: H2O No No’s are in the past – some history of the swim

8/10/16 Accclaimed writer, Gloucester resident, and one of the trio that inspired the Clean Harbor Swim Sarah Fraser Robbins excerpt ( the title of her classic book The Sea is All About Us was a nod to Gloucester summer resident TS Eliot’ Four Quartets)

8/6/16 litter 1978 Crackdown at the quarries 

8/4/16 history of the swim and news about 2016 Celebrate the Clean Harbor Swim




Rio waters can get better! Thanks to dogged naturalists, we can put our heads under water in Gloucester. Register now for the August 13 Clean Harbor Swim

While Rio welcomes the 2016 XXXI Olympics, Gloucester will host the “38th Annual Celebrate the Clean Harbor Swim” on August 13, 2016 at 9AM on Niles Beach. A  500 meter course for children ages 8-12 was added last year; any parent and child registering at the same time will receive a promotional discount. I find that incentive extra symbolic because a mother and daughter, Sarah Fraser Robbins and Sarah Robbins Evans, together with Philip Weld, Jr., got this all going! MassAudubon facilitated the annual swim the following year and many years after. More recently it’s been produced by the New England Ocean Water Swimming Association (NEOWSA). Many partners with the City of Gloucester continue to work hard for clean water. I’ll write more about the history of the swim in another post, but in this post I want to delve a bit into the biography of Sarah Fraser Robbins.

They swam for clean water because the Clean Water Act was not being enforced in the Harbor. Today participants swim to celebrate clean water.

There are 2.5 centuries of conservation efforts and notable naturalists in Gloucester. Sarah Fraser Robbins was one.


Sarah Fraser Robbins was 68 at the time of the first swim, a long time Gloucester resident, environmentalist, author, scholar and museum educator. She worked at the Peabody Essex Museum for 25 years. In 1961, she and others helped persuade the Raymond family to donate land to Mass Audubon, now Eastern Point Wildlife Sanctuary. Robbins was friends with Ivy LeMon who was active in banding monarchs to trace their migration wintering in Mexico–had to be with that wonderful name. I have heard that together they helped to secure habitat and urged people to garden using the plants butterflies liked. Kim Smith continues on that Gloucester path.

Robbins published articles in regional journals, the journal of the New England aquarium, and for close to 30  years a regular column- “The Curious Naturalist” -for  Mass Audubon publications. The Sea Is All About Us: A Guide to Marine Environments of Cape Ann and Other Northern New England Waters, the 1973 book Robbins wrote with Clarice Yentsch, was an influential touchstone about wildlife at our shores. The lengthy title opens with a nod to the T.S. Eliot poem Four Quartets: The Dry Salvages. What other could it be?  That glorious landmark seamark poem is all Water, art, legacy and nature. And the paradise that’s Cape Ann. 

Read an excerpt with Robbin’s curator, scholar and naturalist’s eye in mind. (Her father was an amateur geologist.)

The river is within us, the sea is all about us;
The sea is the land’s edge also, the granite
Into which it reaches, the beaches where it tosses
Its hints of earlier and other creation:
The starfish, the horseshoe crab, the whale’s backbone;
The pools where it offers to our curiosity
The more delicate algae and the sea anemone.
It tosses up our losses, the torn seine,
The shattered lobsterpot, the broken oar
And the gear of foreign dead men. The sea has many voices,

The ‘savage rocks’ are two groups of rocky ledge off our shores nearby Straightsmouth and Thacher Island. The bigger ‘Dry Salvages’ are a mile and a half out and the little salvages are a mile out. Growing up, including when he came home from Harvard, Eliot sailed from his family’s summer home on Eastern Point. He could clear the Dry Salvages or thread past Avery Ledge and Flat Ground and back home to Gloucester.

… the ragged rock in the restless waters,
Waves wash over it, fogs conceal it;
On a halcyon day it is merely a monument,
In navigable weather it is always a seamark
To lay a course by: but in the sombre season
Or the sudden fury, is what it always was.

Check out who wrote the forward for the new edition of The Sea is All About Us:


None other than Deborah Cramer, author of The Narrow Edge, another Gloucester conservationist ( and still looking for horseshoe crab sightings)

The Peabody Essex Museum and Maritime Gloucester memorialized Sarah Fraser Robbins. Be inspired!

  • In 2003, Peabody Essex Museum established the Sarah Fraser Robbins Directorship for the Art & Nature Center, currently held by Jane Winchell.
  • In 2014 the Center was dedicated in memory of PEM honorary trustee, Dorothy “Dotty” Addams Brown, Sarah’s good friend and Eastern Point resident.
  • Maritime Gloucester’s education center was dedicated in 2008 as the Sarah Fraser Robbins Marine Science Center.
  • In 2014, Maritime Gloucester also established the Sarah Fraser Robbins Environmental Award.

Philip Weld’s father, Philip S. Weld Sr., was a newspaper publisher, editor, writer, environmentalist, veteran, and record breaking sailor. The year after the first harbor swim Phil Sr won a transatlantic race sailing “Moxie” and wrote about that crossing. He grew up in Manchester and raised his family in Gloucester.

You can see Sarah’s daughter, Sarah Robbins Evans, interviewed in a great 2010 GMG video by Manny Simoes. Make sure to watch his terrific mini doc overview of that 32nd Clean Harbor Swim run by Richie Martin. There are brief and peppy participant interviews. Swimmers came near and far- Tewksbury, Beverly, Boxford, Boston, Bedford NH, Essex, Portland ME, Falmouth ME, Swampscott…watch to find out more!

To register for the Clean Harbor Swim

Read more


IMG_9811The other morning at the beach I was about to step out of my car barefoot when I looked down at the curbside to see about twenty of these small, cigarette but-sized glass vials littered around the curb. I fortunately stopped before putting my foot down in the glass in what could have a been yucky cut. Litter comes in all shapes and sizes but I was also wondering what they are. Please write if you know. Thank you!IMG_9810

Speaking of litter, that very same morning, while I was filming a group of crows pulling trash across the road and tearing up the MacDonald’s to-go boxes to get to the food remaining within, I looked up from the footbridge and saw a man in his car dumping a shopping bag full of food smack dab in the middle of Nautilus Road (the road that runs along Good Harbor). I stopped him and asked him why he did that. He shook his fist in my face and ironically, considering what I had just been filming, hollered that the crows and the gulls have to eat to.

So, to anyone who may be under the notion that crows and beach gulls do not get enough to eat of their own volition, I can assure you that they do, and that they are probably two of the best fed species on Planet Earth.

Gull and Beach Garbage copyright Kim SmithKeep Cape Ann Beautiful ~ Please Don’t Litter


why this?

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What is Great Pond Status?

The point of the Aftermath video is to showcase the litter, not who owns the pond. Thank you Daniel for pointing out the litter and thank you Anonymous for sharing that Niles Pond has Massachusetts Great Pond Status. And thank you to all who wrote comments-it just goes to show how much we all care about our beautiful Niles Pond and surrounding environment.

Irrespective of who owns the pond, let’s all please not litter, and if you do see trash left behind, clean it up, and if you can’t manage the job yourself, email the wonderfully good eggs Donna Ardizzoni and her One Hour at a Time Gang for the really tough jobs.

Niles Pond Sunrise

From the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection website: Chapter 91 comprises four basic areas of geographical jurisdiction. Any activity that takes place in one of the hot link areas listed below requires Chapter 91 authorization. The areas are:

Flowed Tidelands – Any project located in, on, over or under tidal waters seaward of the present mean high water (MHW) shoreline. Jurisdiction in this case extends seaward three miles, to the state limit of territorial jurisdiction.

Filled Tidelands – The limit on filled tidelands is: A.) Outside Designated Port Areas, the first public way or 250 feet from mean high water, whichever is farther landward and B.) Inside Designated Port Areas, the historic MHW shoreline (i.e., all filled areas).

Great Ponds – Any project located in, on, over or under the water of a great pond. A great pond is defined as any pond or lake that contained more than 10 acres in its natural state. Ponds or lakes presently larger than 10 acres are presumed to be great ponds, unless the applicant provides unequivocal evidence to the contrary. Ponds 10 or more acres in their natural state, but which are now smaller, are still considered great ponds.

Non-Tidal Rivers and Streams – Projects located in, on, over, or under any non-tidal, navigable river or stream on which public funds have been expended either upstream or downstream within the river basin, except for any portions not normally navigable during any season by any vessel. Additionally, the Connecticut River, the Merrimack River and portions of the Westfield River are within jurisdiction.

Chapter 91: An Overview and Summary ~ Read more to find out how Great Pond Status directly affects Niles Pond: Read more


Isn’t Niles Pond gorgeous? The above photo I posted on Sunday; the pond looks especially pristine and sparkly in the snow and ice.

The following day GMG follower and Eastern Point resident Daniel D. wrote to say “It does look beautiful, and as a Resident of Eastern Point, I love when others can share in the beauty of our neighborhood. Unfortunately, the picture for today should be all the cans, boxes, and trash left behind by these people when they finished skating that day, all glaringly standing out as the snow melts in that exact spot… Hopefully they read this comment and then quickly come and clean it up before the ice melts this week and it all sinks to the bottom of our lovely pond. I’m Just Saying….”

Hey guys—it looked as though you were having a great time, but then had to leave very suddenly—with trash, half a dozen pucks, and even a shovel left behind. Perhaps there was an emergency—whatever the case—could someone who was playing hockey at Niles on Sunday please come and clean up the mess. I picked up much, of what I could reach, but the embankment is muddy and slippery and you will need tall waders to reach the plastic bottles and shovel. Thank you for your consideration.

As Daniel D. correctly stated, all the trash is going to sink to the bottom. Many species of waterfowl dive for vegetable matter and the seeds, stems, roots, and bulbs of submerged aquatic plants. They can easily became entangled in trash. The last shot of the bird’s nest is meant to symbolize the pond’s fragility.

Clip of the stunning Northern Pintail (Anas acuta) at 3 minutes 45 seconds.

Donna Ardizzoni Has A Message For People Who Litter

Donna Writes-

As a member of The One Hour at a Time Gang (we try on Saturday mornings to clean the streets and beaches), I must say the cigarette butts are disgusting.

The city needs to fine people for throwing this litter on our streets.

Could it be that smokers who throw cigarettes out of windows and on streets not know that is littering — just like throwing a coffee cup out onto the streets and onto our beaches? As we clean, most of the litter is cigarette butts.

Please smokers, think before you throw them on the ground.

Our environment and city will thank you.

Thanks and take care

Donna Ardizzoni

Filthy Rotten Pigs

Filthy Rotten Pigs, originally uploaded by captjoe06.