Japanese Debris On The BC Coast – Is it from the Japanese Tsunami?

 

The next time you go to the beach and pick up a piece up something from the sand, think of the story of how it arrived there. Is it something lost from the local town, or something that has drifted for years to arrive here just for you?

Kuroshio Current (upper left)

 Early in the 1900’s – commercial Japanese crab fishermen began replacing wooden and cork floats on their fishing nets with free blown glass floats. When the nets broke loose or were lost, the net rotted and the glass balls floated free from their nets and drifted across the Pacific, along with much other debris, on the Kuroshio Current (also known as the Black Stream or Japanese Current). This is a north-flowing ocean current on the west side of the North Pacific Ocean and it is part of the North Pacific ocean gyre1.

1910 – PRESENT – Every year the Kuroshio Current brings material from Asia to North American shores – floats, shoes, boats, wood, bottles, cans, etc. – garbage!

March 11, 2011 –  a powerful, magnitude 9.0 earthquake hit northeastern Japan, triggering a tsunami with 10-meter-high waves that reached the U.S. West Coast. So much debris was washed out to sea from Japan that forecasters have said that because of prevailing ocean currents (see above), the garbage will wash up on North American coastlines by 2014.

November 11, 2011 – Is Tsunami debris from Japan reaching BC? Beachcombers in BC on the west coast of Vancouver Island have been finding plastic drink bottles imprinted with Asian writing, floats, wood, and other debris. Is this from the the Japanese Tsunami? Not likely! See the video and the news story which is raising the alarm in the link above.

Japanese debris gyre

It takes approximately seven (7) years for debris from Japan to reach western American shores, and some of it floats longer.2 From the oceanographer’s reports, the acres of garbage is coming faster for some reason. Maybe because of the greater volume, and hence greater exposure to the wind. Debris moves faster if it is exposed to the wind. It is estimated at 20 million tonnes and covering an area the size of the state of California. The main part of the debris field is not expected until about 2014.

Please take a look at the following video which shows people beachcombing for glass balls (Asian fishnet floats). Look at all the garbage on the beaches, washed ashore by the winds, with help from the currents mentioned above. Lots of Asian material on the beaches there too (2010).

When the debris from the Japanese Tsunami hits our shores, we will know it!

UPDATE:

February 12, 2013 – Millions of tonnes of tsunami debris approaching B.C.’s coastal communities

BY ELAINE O’CONNOR, THE PROVINCE : Tuesday, February 12, 2013 12:00 AM
 
A detailed view of the interior of a small boat from Japan found intact on the west coast of Vancouver Island last month. — Living Oceans Society
, Photograph by: Living Oceans Society
 

Tonnes of Japanese tsunami debris are expected to wash up along Pacific shores starting in earnest this year, and B.C.’s coastal communities are bracing for a barrage of garbage on their beaches.