Lost and Found
The North American media has been doing an interesting job of reporting the first few significant Tsunami debris items to arrive on the shores of the Pacific Coast. Eventually, I am sure they will cease to care about each and every plank of wood or bottle that washes up. For now though, people seem genuinely concerned about returning more significant items to their rightful owners. I find this touching considering that there is a good chance the owner might have lost most, if not all, of their worldly possessions, and that’s if they are still alive.
The first large item to surface was a badly battered fishing boat spotted off the coast of Alaska. The owner was contacted and stated that he did not want it back, so after some failed efforts were made to get close to the vessel, the US Coast Guard opened fire and sank the boat. They speculate that it was unsafe to board and could pose a danger to other vessels. That’s fair to say, but to sink a boat, possibly with a tank full of diesel doesn’t seem all that responsible to me either. I guess coast guard target practice takes precedence over environmental preservation out there in Alaska. I wish they had managed to bring it to shore, but I suppose there is plenty more where that came from on its way. Better luck next time.
Next was the soccer and volleyballs found by an Alaskan man who enjoys beach combing. In an interesting twist of fate, the wife of the man happens to be Japanese, so she could read the inscriptions written all over the student memento’s. They were successfully able to track the owners down in Japan and plan on returning them shortly.
Finally, there is the most recent case of the cube truck container that washed ashore on one of the small islands of Haida Gwai. A man exploring a remote beach on his four-wheeler found it and opened it up. He discovered a few golf clubs, some random camping equipment, and a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle. The bike was encrusted in salt and a bit battered, but in fair condition. A determined soul went out there, put the bike on the back of a truck, and carted it back to the main land. The Japanese owner was located and the bike will be shipped back to him care of Harley-Davidson. They have also promised to restore the bike if it is feasible.
The current estimate is that there is about 1.5 million tones of Japanese Tsunami debris still floating in the Pacific Ocean. It is thought that another 3.5 million tons actually sank just off the coast of Japan. The truth is, it’s actually not possible to tell what sank and what’s still floating. It’s probably safest to just say ‘a lot sank and some of it is coming your way.’ Hopefully people will continue to treat found objects with some care and respect and do what they can to return the items to their original owners. I know the Japanese would do exactly that if our current roles were somehow reversed.
Update: Here is a recent CBC article about the amount of debris that is starting to wash ashore, and the concerns that the community has with how to dispose of it.