Discomania on Brewster beach

The Napoli with its load of containers, beached off the East Devon coast

Weird stuff often ends up on beaches.

Flotsam from the wreck of the Napoli at Branscombe, just a few miles east of Budleigh Salterton caught public attention when the UK-flagged container ship was beached off the coast in 2007 after it had split open. Scavengers from all over Britain descended on the area intent on carrying off BMW motorbikes, nappies and, shamefully, people's personal possessions which had been washed ashore.

It took two years for the wreck to be disposed of by the authorities. The floating crane and tugs were still operating on it when I took this photo at Sidmouth in 2009.

Our starfish invasion a year or so ago hit international headlines as I reported at http://budleighbrewsterunited.blogspot.com/2010/03/starring-role-for-budleigh_4295.html

Alien visitors to a Brewster beach

Truly bizarre is the story reported by the Department of Natural Resources in Budleigh Salterton's sister-town of Brewster of the millions of small plastic discs washed up along the coast last month. Brewster resident Kevin Aring found fame in the Massachusetts media for his diligence in collecting 5,000 of them. Once he started he couldn't stop, as he explained in a YouTube clip at http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110401/NEWS/104010317/-1/news

The discs were used by a wastewater treatment facility in Hooksett, New Hampshire and were released into the Merrimack River after heavy rain, finding their way on to the shorelines of Maine and Massachusetts. It was reported that between four million and eight million disks - that seems quite a big difference to me - along with 250,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater were released from the town-owned plant.

The Department of Natural Resources warned people that the discs could have some bacteria remaining on them, so it was recommended to not touch them with bare hands.

On Monday 28 March a beach clean-up organised by the Department removed more than 6,300 of them. By Wednesday, more than 20,000 had been recovered from Brewster beaches. Volunteers were continuing to work at removing them.


  1. Hi there. Found your blog on a search of the Hooksett disks. Trying to see from week to week how far they've traveled. (I live in Maine, just north of New Hampshire, and often comb the local beach looking for flotsam.) Actually, by summer, some of them that got caught in the Gulf Stream might be washing up along shores in Devon & Cornwall. The ocean divides as well as unites!


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