Tsunami Debris From Japan’s Coast Littering Beaches On West Coast

Tsunami debris from the monstrous waves to hit Japan’s coast last year is starting to pile up on beaches along America’s west coast, lining the sand with all kinds of artifacts.

There is about five million tons of tsunami debris in the sea, which includes water bottles, buoys, fishing gear, and other possessions. It is being picked up by a number of volunteers who comb beaches in California looking for plastic and other litter but this year are instead finding artifacts from Japan.

From The Associated Press:

“Tsunami flotsam has already touched the Pacific Northwest and Hawaii this year. The West Coast is bracing for more sightings in the coming months as seasonal winds and coastal currents tend to drive marine wreckage ashore.

“Like the past winter, scientists expect the bulk of the debris to end up in Alaska, Washington state, Oregon and British Columbia. Last week, the Coast Guard spotted a massive dock that possibly came from Japan on a wilderness beach in Washington state.”

The army of volunteers is undertaking an effort to document the tsunami debris that turns up. Though few pieces have been difinitively linked to the tsunami yet, California coastal offiicals said it is helpful to know if a beach is being covered with more marine debris than usual.

“We want to get an idea of where to focus our efforts. We have limited resources,” Eben Schwartz, marine debris program manager at the California Coastal Commission, told The Associated Press. “If we see the problem is hitting the north coast and not getting as far south as San Francisco, that tells us where to focus.”

There have been some instances of larger tsunami debris showing up. Just before Christmas, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported about a large dock that washed up on a remote part of Washington’s coast, which was linked back to Japan.