On Thursday July 24, 2014 a 67 foot shrimp boat caught fire near Fripp Island, SC. The two men aboard the vessel were rescued and the boat drifted as it burned down to the water line. Currents and wind pushed the boat down the coast to Pitchard Island where it rests today. Within a couple of days following the fire the Coast Guard flew over the boat twice to look for fuel leakage and did not spot any leaks.
At the time this fishing boat caught fire and was abandoned, its nets were still out. The nets have floats on the top cable and weights on the bottom to keep the nets spread so they can capture the shrimp. The top line running through the floats is a polypropylene rope with stainless steel cable interlaced inside the rope.
On 4/25/2015 when we arrived at the boat we found lots of entanglement items all around and on the boat consisting of netting, ropes and cables. There were two floats still out in the surf hanging a net between them.
On shore, in and beyond the high tide line area there is a huge amount of rigid yellow foam. The volume of foam combined would be about 40-45 cubic yards of material. In addition to the foam is about 7-10 cubic yards of wood and other debris.
We were able to remove most of the entanglement items that were on and around the boat and got rid of the net that was still hanging in the surf. On the foam and debris items, we were only able to drag out about 8 cubic yards. The area where we were able to land the boats was about a mile south of the burned boat so we had to drag everything we removed along the shore back to the boats. Each boat had every available open hole stuffed with foam and then some additional foam tied and piled on top.
All of the foam that we removed from this site was taken directly to a recycling center in Beaufort. Below are the photos from this cleanup. Unfortunately the foam you see laying on the ground in these photos remains and covers about a quarter mile of the high tide line area for Pritchard Island. What should be a beautiful pristine island is anything but along this coast line.
Wounded Nature – Working Veterans has some awesome volunteers. A special thanks to Robert Morris, Moon, Abby and Samantha for their help and guidance, plus they are a fun group to spend time with. Robert and Moon are hard workers and all four of them truly care about the environment. Samantha and Abby left us to do a sea turtle nesting survey once we were on the Island.
On this cleanup, we made a difference but it is overshadowed by the amount of foam and debris we had to leave behind.