Monday, August 25, 2014

Mystery on the Merrimack


I had just settled into my boat this morning at Southwell Park in N. Chelmsford when I noticed a moving white object in the Merrimack River.  It was fairly close to shore and I paddled over for a closer look.  As I approached I saw another curious party approaching from the sky...an adult bald eagle who swooped up upon seeing me.  The eagle perched in a tree near the boat ramp and watched my investigation...
 

The moving white object turned out to be a plastic shopping bag (actually 2 bags) tied in such a way as to entrap an animal inside.   By the strong odor emanating from the bag, I guessed correctly that the animal inside was a skunk.  While not a big fan of skunks, I couldn't just leave the animal to die in such a cruel way.  Using my gloves I carefully untied the knot and placed the bag on the shore.  Detecting no movement, I pulled the bag away to reveal the skunk...
  ...which was deceased. 
I was left to wonder if it was the skunk, while still alive, causing the bag's movement, or if perhaps fish (such as carp) were pushing the bag around from below the surface drawing both my and the eagle's attention.  Who would place a skunk inside a plastic bag, especially if it was alive?  By the way, any thoughts of human to skunk CPR were quickly dismissed.

I paddled down to Stony Brook to clear my head...and sinuses.  The eagle remained on his perch...

After regrouping at Stony Brook, I paddled up to the 547 foot span Tyngsborough Bridge...
...arriving just in time to watch Pan AM Railways engine 515 pull a 10 car freight under the bridge's approach in a southbound direction...

The view of the bridge from below...

It was a truly splendid morning and I was lucky to be out on the Merrimack.

Numerous large carp were seen in the shallows, mostly where there was shade.  Good food for eagles I suppose.

Unfortunately, trash was also abundant...
There were 92 recyclable containers (14 redeemable) and 27 pieces of miscellaneous rubbish such as Styrofoam and plastic bags.  Those doubting the need for expanding our state's Bottle Bill might want to look at the large number of plastic water, juice, iced tea, and Gatorade bottles.  I counted 55 of them and gave them their own quarters in my boat's fo'c's'le...
They're just not getting recycled (especially by folks "on the go") and we need a financial incentive to get the job done.                       My YTD trash total now stands at 4001. 

2 comments:

PenobscotPaddles said...

So many surprises in rivers, so few pleasant ones. I suspect the skunk may have been deceased prior to being put into the bags. I don't know why people feel compelled to bag things before tossing them in the river, but I see it all the time.

Suasco Al said...

You're probably right PenobscotPaddles. It was a very strange experience. My eyes were telling me that something within the bag was causing all of the movement while my brain was being more skeptical. Guess I'll never know for sure. Before I launched I did see an older gentleman exit his car and walk into that general area. Didn't notice him carrying anything though.