From the Editor

Ghost Traps vs. Ghost Traps

September 2016

Colin W. Sargent, Editor & Publisher

colin_2015The Ghostbusters Fan site defines a ghost trap as “a piece of ghostbusting equipment almost as important as the proton pack in the Ghostbusters universe. The ghost trap was used for detaining and transporting ‘busted’ ghosts until they could be safely stuffed into the Ecto Containment Unit. Believed by some to entrap the ghost with a laser containment field, precisely how the trap works was never fully explained in the films.” But of course, YouTube has directions on how to make one. Search “Making A Working Ghostbusters Ghost Trap!”

None of which is as poignant and scary as a real Maine ghost trap on a windswept beach. When they roll up the sidewalks in Maine in the winter, a low-tide walk by the shore takes you close to mortality along a path of seaweed and brutal reality. A real ghost trap is a lobster trap that’s had its lobster buoy and rope ripped from it by storms or rope rot. Or other forces, seen or unseen. Lobster wars or a mutiny of captive crustaceans on a ghost ship? That’s a different ghost story. Stripped of their identifying buoys, the ghost traps survive in their disconnected universe, working independently of the humans who were once convinced they owned them.

USA Today has weighed in on this in an Associated Press story: “Beneath the cold ocean waters off the coast of Maine lie hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of old wire lobster ‘ghost traps.’ Lost over the years to storms, boats–even the knives of fishermen who’ve cut them from their buoys to settle scores–many of the traps continue catching lobsters. ‘It would be very interesting if we could drain the ocean and look at what’s down there,’ says Holly Bamford, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administrations Marine Debris Program. ‘We might be surprised.’ The extent of Maine’s ghost trap problem isn’t fully known, but lobstermen say they sometimes recover traps that contain skinny lobsters–ones that appear to [be wasting]–or shells from lobsters that have starved and withered away to nothing or been eaten by other lobsters.” Lobsters are, famously, cannibals.

Not a pretty end game. But then, sometimes the depraved and the beautiful walk hand-in-hand on a romantic beach.