Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 20 April 2014

Storm debris washed up 20 years on

A tag from a lobster pot swept off the US sea floor two decades ago has washed up 3,000 miles away in Ireland

A tag from a lobster pot that was swept off the United States sea floor two decades ago, during what came to be known as The Perfect Storm, has washed up 3,000 miles away in Ireland.

The pot that held the tag with lobsterman Richard Figueiredo's name on it was one of hundreds he lost when the vicious storm on the Atlantic Ocean struck off New England in 1991.

Rosemary Hill of Waterville in County Kerry found the tag on a beach last year, but the 39-year-old beachcomber put it aside with other beach souvenirs.

Last week, she decided to try to contact Mr Figueiredo and found him through his son Rich's Facebook account.

"I looked at it again and thought, 'Why not try to find the owner?'" Ms Hill told The Patriot Ledger. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

Mr Figueiredo, of Pembroke, was stunned the worn tag had weathered the long trip after the storm, which was made famous by Sebastian Junger's book The Perfect Storm, the basis for a Hollywood movie about a rugged fleet of New England fishermen caught in the storm. "The odds are phenomenal," said Mr Figueiredo.

Oceanographer Curt Ebbesmeyer said the tag's 20-year drift is unusually long for such flotsam.

He theorised it was buried in offshore mud before drifting and catching the Gulf Stream towards Ireland - in between a few years of circling in a mid-Atlantic current. He called it "a very well-travelled tag indeed".

Ms Hill said she spied the orange tag in clumps of seaweed after a storm.

Mr Figueiredo and Ms Hill spoke for the first time when she offered to post the tag back to him. But Mr Figueiredo told her to keep it. "The meaning it has over there is what matters," he said. "I am honoured that she has put so much enthusiasm into this. What's happening now is a gift to me."

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