Friday, September 2, 2011

9/2/11 Report - Beaches, Detectorists, Club Hunt & Katia

I received an interesting and information email from Allen B. He and his father traveled to the Treasure Coast to hunt after Irene. They put in about 40 hours of detecting over three days. They spent over $500 dollars while on the Treasure Coast.

Having worked for several years as the Deputy Public Works Director for a county in North Florida, Allen knows quite a bit about beach renourishment programs and commented on the intense pressure applied by coastal property owners to protect their property.

Additionally he points out that the mean ocean level has risen about one foot over the past century and may rise another 3 feet by the end of this century, which could doom many coastal communities and barrier islands.

He said, It was interesting to me that while most of your beaches are eroding the cove between the Rio Mar and Sandy Point Wreck is actually building sand. I noticed at this location that the waves were breaking further off shore. I believe the reef at this location is better protecting the shore.

Interesting observation. As a beach hunter, you should observe areas where there is a long term trend in sand accumulation or loss.

There short term trends and long term trends. You can see many of the long term trends by looking at maps that show the coast line over several decades.

You can observe the daily, weekly or monthly trends by personal observation. Use stumps, rocks, trees, pilings or other landmarks to tell you where sand is being added or lost on a daily or weekly basis.

Tree stumps are one of my favorite indicators. I will sometimes mark them so I can measure the ebb and flow of sand on successive visits.

Accumulating sand is generally an indicator of deteriorating conditions, while continuing loss of sand is a generally a good sign.

A short term loss of some sand is not a very significant indicator if and when it occurs on a beach where the long term trend is significant accumulation.

As one example, a moderate cut in the Sandy Point accumulation area would not be as good a sign as a similar size cut at a beach that has been eroding for some time.

Similarly, a cut on a beach that has received tons of beach renourishment sand would normally not significantly improved beach conditions for finding old objects.

To get back to one of Allen's main points, the Treasure Coast is visited by many people who want to visit the treasure beaches and do a little detecting. (I'll have a little data when the current blog survey is done. That is one reason your participation is important.) They spend good money in the local economy, as did Allen and his father who found the trip disappointing due largely to the amount of beach renourishment sand.

The argument is often made that visitors want to see nothing more than wide sandy beaches, even if the beaches are artificially created out of all sorts of unnatural looking sand.

The new beach just south of the Fort Pierce Inlet is in my opinion not only unnatural, but ugly, and was even dangerous when it eroded to form a straight eight foot cliff, which was more the consistency of concrete than sand.

Furthermore, I believe that the turtle nests that are laid in the artificial sand beaches will lose a very high percent of the eggs to erosion before they have the opportunity to hatch.

I don't think that the community knows how many detectorists travel to the Treasure Coast area to detect. I'm getting a better idea of that every day.

Before I lived here I drove a few hours on many occasions to visit the Treasure Coast to detect. Now I live on the Treasure Coast.

Last week I saw a lot of cars with out-of-area licenses on the treasure beaches, and I talked to several of those people that traveled here to detect. That happens at other times of the year too. It doesn't occur only after storms.

Irene did not even hit us, yet she brought numbers of people here to search our treasure beaches.

To summarize, I don't think the local leaders realize how much the detecting hobby contributes to tourism and our local economy. People who travel to the Treasure Coast are very often interested in treasure and want to participate in the hunt.

Detectorists are not a very vocal or visible group, and as a result they aren't appreciated. Maybe we can do a little bit of something about that.

Here is an announcement for the newly formed and quickly growing St. Lucie Metal Detecting club.

The club will have a hunt Saturday at Jensen Beach, meeting at the board walk between 7:30 and 8:00 am. Bernie would like to know who's attending. You can call him at 786-246-9335. His email address can also be found in previous posts.

I hear membership is now up to 31.

What is more expensive than gold? One thing is rhino horns. It is said that thieves have been cutting the horns off of stuffed rhinos in natural history exhibits.

Treasure Coast Beach Forecast and Conditions

The wind is out of the east today, and the seas ares running about 2.5 feet through the weekend.

The surf web sites are predicting much higher seas by Thursday. If we actually get the predicted 7.5 foot seas the effect could be much more significant on the Treasure Coast than what happened as a result of Irene if the angle and other conditions are right. We'll have to wait and see if it actually happens though.

There is one tropical depression up by New York and one about to go ashore in the Gulf just west of the Mississippi. That could help the drought situation some.

Katia is still way out in the Atlantic and expected to be near Bermuda in a few days. She is expected to be a major hurricane.

It looks like it will be a week before conditions change much on the Treasure Coast.

If the surf web sites are correct, it could, and I emphasize the word "could" at this point, be a very significant change.

Erosion is very difficult to predict. It seems it is easier to tell when nothing will happen than when something significant will happen. It takes a number of factors coming together just right to actually cause erosion that will change detecting conditions significantly at the right spots.

As I've mentioned in the past, before I lived up here I made a lot of trips to the Treasure Coast for nothing. If I had a resource like this blog, I could have really reduced the number of wasted trips.

You can learn some things even when you don't find anything, so I need to acknowledge that the trips weren't totally wasted.

When detecting conditions do improve, that is easy enough to report.

When conditions get good, they can remain good for a days or weeks.

Happy hunting,