Remote sensing of boat abandonment using Google Earth
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Abandoned boats represent a pervasive and growing problem in the coastal zone that has received little regulatory or scientific attention. In this study, we show how Google Earth can be employed to remotely identify abandoned boats and provide information on their size, age and condition. Based on specified criteria for abandonment, a survey of southern England (1700 km in length) revealed the presence of 266 boats that were mainly located in the intertidal zones of estuaries and inlets and that were often contained within clusters. Boat length ranged from 2.6 to 60 m (median = 10.5 m), and since 2004 abandonment has been increasing at a rate of about eight per year. The majority of boats appeared to be of timber construction and exhibited evidence of damage and water-sediment ingression. The environmental impacts are likely to be most significant where boats are clustered on protected mudflats.
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