01 October 2022

Scavenging

Matthew Stohr salvages bottles of vodka from an eddy of containers that settled off the west end of a bridge into Fort Myers Beach on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2022 after Hurricane Ian devastated the area. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
This photo and caption from a gallery at the Tampa Bay Times brought a variety of thoughts to my mind.  

First, the terminology.  "Salvaging", from an Old French word meaning "to save" is commonly used for maritime rescues of ships, crews, and cargo - but can be used to refer to making good use of damaged material.  I think a better term for the scene depicted here is scavenging - to look through refuse or abandoned items for useful material.

Then the thought that there must be a ton of this going on in Florida these days.  The scene above appears to be of flotsam originating in a liquor store, but the beaches (and streets and properties) of Florida must be covered with all sorts of items washed from fragmented homes and businesses.

What are the rules (written or unwritten) covering this?  Is it up for grabs - first come first serve?  Most material would not be "abandoned" in the traditional sense of owners relinquishing title to it - but in a practical sense owners are unlikely to be reunited with lost items.

The debris on the streets will include jewelry, fine art, money, collectibles and the state is awash in people who have lost much of what they previously owned.  Are they morally justified to scavenge seeking some compensation for their losses?

11 comments:

  1. Back home in the Netherlands, stuff on the beach still belongs to the original owner. Officially you have to bring it to the police. One of the Dutch Islands has an actual office for that purpose, and it is surrounded by stuff that washed up on the beach. However, locals tend to believe that whatever interesting they find is theirs. Reality is that as long as you're a bit discrete you can keep what you find.

    In Dutch, there is also a separate verb for 'looking for washed up stuff on the beach': strandjutten, or just jutten. Ethymology of the word is unclear says wiki. Either it's related to Juten, one of the original peoples of Denmark, or it's related to the Herbrew (and Dutch slang) jatten: stealing. Wiki translates jutten to beach combing. That seems an ugly term.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beachcombing

    I'm gonna guess the liquor store - if is still exists - does not want that liquor back. I'd tell the finders: Be careful with all the broken glass, but enjoy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Does that mean that the original owners can be charged with littering?

      Delete
  2. Snips from: https://oceanservice.noaa.gov/facts/flotsam-jetsam.html

    Flotsam and jetsam are terms for specific types of marine debris.

    Flotsam and jetsam are terms that describe two types of marine debris associated with vessels. Flotsam is defined as debris in the water that was not deliberately thrown overboard, often as a result from a shipwreck or accident. Jetsam describes debris that was deliberately thrown overboard by a crew of a ship in distress, most often to lighten the ship's load.

    Under maritime law the distinction is important. Flotsam may be claimed by the original owner, whereas jetsam may be claimed as property of whoever discovers it. If the jetsam is valuable, the discoverer may collect proceeds received though the sale of the salvaged objects

    ReplyDelete
  3. I remember after Katrina all the news channels saying that the scavenging for water (and food and diapers and so on) done by the survivors was "looting" and was evidence of the corrupt nature of the culture in New Orleans. (With non-subtle hints that this culture was so corrupt because so many black people lived there.) There were calls for "looters" to be shot, and comparisons to how nobly people in the Midwest responded when disaster struck their communities.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The racism beneath the label was starkly underscored by the fact that some of the images of white people scavenging stuff from a grocery store were captioned as them "finding" things, while images of black people scavenging from the store stated they were "looting".

      https://www.snopes.com/tachyon/2016/09/looting.jpg?resize=737%2C633&zoom=1

      Delete
  4. There's a lovely little story (they're all lovely little stories) by Tove Jansson in The Sculptor's Daughter on the subject.

    ReplyDelete
  5. in New York the guy would have to pay tax on the bottles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In New York,there is a bottle deposit: https://nyassembly.gov/write/upload/req/bottle_law.pdf New York State Returnable Container Act

      Liquor bottles are not covered by that bottle deposit law.

      Delete
  6. When significant portions of Florida's current coast are routinely underwater, as we will see in the next few decades, this is what the beach will look like for hundreds of miles. What an ecological catastrophe. Do they still issue 30-year home loans down there?

    ReplyDelete
  7. As a Penguins fan since 1967 (when they were one of the 6 new teams to join the "Original 6"), not sure how I feel about this guy wearing that shirt. Hope he saves a bottle to celebrate the Pens' 6th Stanley Cup next June 🤞

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...