The Tale of an American Lobster Pot Tag

How an American Lobster Pot Tag ended up in a Cornish Cove.

This is a tale about how an American lobster pot tag ended up on a quiet Cornish cove. It is a good example of how the ocean currents work and how long plastic endures in the marine environment.

American Lobster Tag
The American plastic lobster pot tag found at Portheras on 17th February. It shows details of it’s owner ( W R Palombo) and name and registration number of the boat (H & A 310205).

After a 16 year, 3,115 mile voyage across the Atlantic from Rhode Island this seemingly ordinary piece of beach-cleaned plastic arrived at Portheras Cove. Washed ashore by Storm Dennis we quickly realised it had a story to tell. It’s an American lobster pot tag! Finally, after some considerable internet research, and the help of the Newport Daily News in Rhode Island; we pieced together the remarkable circumstances of its journey.  Consequently, we also made contact with its owner Bill Palombo.

Painting of The Holly & Alexander Fishing Vessel
Painting of the lost boat the Holly and Alexander hanging on the wall of Bill Palombo’s office in Rhode Island.

How the lobster pot tag arrived at Portheras Cove

In 2003 a fishing vessel called the Holly and Alexander, owned by Bill Palombo catastrophically sank whilst out at sea. Thankfully, all four of the crew were rescued. Unfortunately the boat and all its contents (including the lobster pots and tags) were lost.

Bill now owns a shipping company in Newport. He still remembers the boat with incredible fondness, because it was named after his children. On the wall of his office, he has an oil painting of the Holly and Alexander, there is also a model of the boat. He was amazed to hear how a small piece his family’s history had managed to sail on for so many years across the Atlantic over to our shores. We spoke with a member of the rescued crew’s family who still carries a memento of the boat with them.

What is lost to the seas, is not lost forever.

The oceans connect us all, and we all are connected to, and affect each other.

Bill Palombo pictured in his Rhode Island office
This is Bill Palombo in his Rhode Island office where he still operates a shipping company. He is showing Sean Flynn (a reporter from the Rhode Island Daily News) some of the lobster tags they use today (which are a slightly different design nowadays)

The lobster pot tag will be used in our ongoing education work with schools and colleges across Cornwall.

(Huge thanks to Bill Palombo, The Newport Daily News Fred Hefler, Lois Williams, Justin Brazier, and Sean Flynn all in Rhode Island USA)