If there’s one thing the ocean doesn’t need, it’s any more litter. Tons of trash, mostly in the form of single-use plastics, has been swirling around in the Great Pacific Garbage patch for years. Instead of being recycled, these plastic bottles, bags, and other “disposables” end up on the streets only to eventually be washed into the sea.
Sometimes, however, catastrophic events can send a mountain of debris into the ocean at once. Events like an unexpected tsunami, for instance.
In early April, Care2 reported on scientists’ fear that the Japanese tsunami washed 1.5 million tons of debris into the ocean in less than 24 hours. Researchers say the debris was initially carried by the potent Kuroshio Current, which whips past eastern Japan much like the Gulf Stream in the North Atlantic. The Kuroshio carries surface waters northeast, before eventually turning east in the Kuroshio Extension and then the North Pacific Current.
They predicted that debris from the tsunami would reach the West Coast of North America within a year, but it seems that some of it may have arrived far ahead of schedule.
A beachcomber discovered a Harley Davidson motorcycle (stuck in a shipping container) just below the high tide mark on an isolated beach on Graham Island, British Columbia.
The bike was rusty, particularly on the wheels and handlebars, but the logo on the fuel tank was unmistakable. ”First I thought, this has got to be the craziest thing anyone has ever found,” said Peter Mark. ”Then I looked a little closer and the licence had Japanese writing on it. The wall of the trailer had Japanese print on the tags. And the first thing that popped into my head was this is likely from the Tsunami in Japan.”
Markings on the container and license plate show that the motorcycle, as well as the golf clubs, tools, and camping equipment, likely originated in Miyagi Prefecture, the worst hit part of Japan, with more than 11,000 people dead and missing.
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